Pittsburgh’s Slaves BC push into personal darkness, blackened sounds on ‘Lo, and I Am Burning’

There’s no question we live in dark times. Yeah, we joke around here a whole lot about Armageddon being right around the corner, but we all know we’re meant to suffer well into the future, with those in power dangling the carrot of fortune and comfort in front of our faces. It’s an easy era in which to be depressed or despondent, and that’s not to be taken lightly or in jest.

That has carried over onto Slaves BC’s second record “Lo, and I am Burning,” a nine-track assault that finds the band’s sound spilling more into death and black metal terrains than ever before. The follow-up to Biblically inspired “All Is Dust and I Am Nothing” drags the Pittsburgh-based band away from its more hardcore- and sludge-molded past and into heavy darkness, both musically and lyrically. Here, the band focuses on depression, suicide, loss, fracturing faith, and the current political climate in the United States that, no matter which side you’re on, is chaotic. It’s hard to even breathe sometimes, and as any sufferer of anxiety can attest, there are moments where it feels like a million pounds are weighing down your chest. The band—vocalist/drummer/lyricist Josh Thieler, guitarist Sean Singer, guitarist/bassist Brandon Siple—is a fixture in the Pittsburgh metal scene. Basically, if you’ve never seen them before, then you really haven’t been to many shows. They are a force live, and their sound always was more on the metallic side, so this new record feels pretty natural.

“Lo” begins with noise buzzing, as riffs open, and a Deathspell Omega-style stormfront lands and dizzies. The vocals shred, while the melodies bring delirium, and then we’re into their trademark sludge before heading toward “We Are All God’s Fault” and its guitar work that causes fits. The vocals devastate, while muddy punishment is applied, and raw power pushes through. The drums pelt your senses, as Theiler barks through the chaos, and then “Lightbearer” emerges, bringing with it a frenetic pace. The vocals strangle, while the song attacks, and then the devastation manages to get even heavier, as the songs pounds away, and everything drowns in noise. “Glory” runs just 46 seconds, but along the way they deliver gory madness and a channeled strike that can bury cities.

“XLV” is tempered at first before the track rips its guts from its belly, and a black metal-style tidal wave overwhelms. The growls are vicious, and the punishment is savage, pushing right into “I Looked Upon the Face of God and My Body Turned to Ash” that’s lightning fast from the start. There’s a mix of black metal and hardcore influences in this muck, as the track hits the gas pedal with fervor, and we’re back to bludgeoning before the song fades. “Honor Thy Father and Mother” also has speed as the guitars go off before the tempo is pulled back. Trudging crushing merges with noise, and the assault later heads into traumatic terror that unleashes ugliness and a finish that’s horrifying. “When Her Prayers Are Silenced” has off-kilter guitars, vocals that shred, and an aura that feels more like post-hardcore. Later the sun sets on that, as the band enters a death crawl, sending seismic waves before fading into 7:30 closer “Unclean.” The music is slow driving at first before rivers of lava emerge and burn things to a crisp. The song wails away, as the growls attempt to draw blood, and sound clouds spit thunder. The drums rupture blood vessels, while the sounds build and deliver a fiery crescendo.

Many of us are struggling, and sometimes each new day is like getting back up only to be punched in the face again. “Lo, and I Am Burning” captures that struggle, the metal turmoil that makes it seem like things never will be OK again. They will, even though that feels like a hopeless cause sometimes, and perhaps this music can help be a reassuring reminder that you’re not alone.

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

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

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

Mortiferum’s first grimy, deadly blasts ‘Altar of Decay’ find new life on vital dual-label reissue

There is so much music out there that it’s impossible to keep up with everything. I particularly admire sites that keep up with the demos circulating that are absolutely slaying people, but there’s no way I ever could be that person. I’m having a hard-enough time squeezing in all the millions of vital releases coming at us in March alone.

So, we weren’t exactly on the cusp of discovery when Mortiferum’s homemade 2017 demo “Altar of Decay” was released, but luckily Profound Lore and Blood Harvest have losers like me covered with their current reissue of that molten four-track effort. In advance of fresh new music from the band, getting indoctrinated with this Olympia, Wash., group and their twisted, blackened death assault comes at a pretty good time. This garage-produced effort—it’s charmingly lo-fi and scuzzy, as one would hope—has been in regular rotation on my Bandcamp app since downloading this beast a few months back, and now you can get your hands on a physical copy (though Profound Lore’s stock already has been bought up by hungry listeners). The band—guitarist/vocalist Max Bowman (also of Eos), guitarist Chase Slaker (formerly of Bone Sickness), and drummer/vocalist Alex Mody (also formerly of Bone Sickness)—set out to capture the beasts they have created (along with Predatory Light’s Dan Fried contributing on bass), and the result is an introductory wave that deserved the accolades it got when it dropped, as well as the reissue by both labels it’s getting now.

The title track opens things with noise bellowing, death bells chiming, and grimy, sooty riffs coming your way. It’s slow-driving pain, with the vocals leaving bruising, and the tempo going off. The drums decimate everything in sight, while the guitars take off, and riffs spiral into oblivion. “Blood Chasm” is torn to shreds from the start, absolutely pulverizing everything in front of it. The growls are raw and gurgling, while the band battles you in the mud, with a thrashy pace sending body blows, and smothering chaos grinding you to the end. “Vitiated Mortality” has an aching, doomy start before its head is taken clean off. Blood spews from the riffs before the tempo slows and brings agony. It’s not long until artillery is fired again, as the song destroys worlds and chews muscle right up to its finish. Closer “Grave Invocation” simmers in spooky keys, as a strange aura is established, and then we’re right into an animalistic assault. The drums maul, while violence erupts at every corner, and the raw growls and primal devastation hammer you right up until mercy turns out your lights.

Mortiferum should strike back soon with new music, so until then, fill up and sicken your mind with “Altar of Decay.” This is an effort that feels diseased and scarred, and it’s the ideal blast of death to whet your appetite and keep you waiting for more. Everything here is terrifying and foreboding, and that stench stinging your nostrils is the dried blood and organs their assault left behind.

For more on the band, go here: https://mortiferum.bandcamp.com/releases

To buy the album, go here (currently sold out): https://profoundlorerecords.merchtable.com/

Or here: http://shop.bloodharvest.se/?product=mortiferum-altar-of-decay-mcd-digi-blood-harvest-preorder

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

And here: http://www.bloodharvest.se/

One-man mauler Misrule put all frustration into virulent, nasty initial release ‘Forced to Suffer’

Hello, and welcome to another broadcast week. Monday is a fine time to feel utterly miserable because most of us have to head back to the grind after a weekend that went too fast, while others aren’t even that lucky. They never get a chance to truly breathe. The music we discuss today definitely is for you.

Misrule is a one-man project of one S. Mahoney that stands as a vessel for him to expunge all his personal frustrations and anger into his music. “Forced to Suffer” is his first release, a savage five-song demo that’ll take you no time at all to absorb, yet once you get to the end, you might feel like you were in a 15-round heavyweight fight. Many people use music for many things, not all of it negative, but what Misrule unleash here is nothing short of virulent. There is no way to walk away from this music feeling uplifted, unless you have as fetish for tragedy. And if you do, we welcome and embrace you. Mahoney’s chaotic power and death-style grind bring misery and panic, and even though it’s just five tracks, it’s easy to lose track of where you are because they blow by like a storm.

The title track is up first and brings utter demolition, with gurgling vocals, feedback shocking your ear drums, and the track thrashing wildly as you gasp for breath. “Led to the Grave” is the epic of the bunch, clocking in at 2:13 and bringing blistering fury. Mahoney pushes into slow-driving pain, as the vocals attack, misery-inducing slaughter follows, and the track blasts out. “Death Embrace Me” delivers disgusting filth and fire, with the music crunching away at psychosis and wellness, the drums blistering, and noise spreading pestilence. “Bleed” is the shortest track at 41 seconds, and from the start, the pace is machine-gun volatile. Absolute destruction meets you, with the vocals peeling paint, and the track burning you alive. Finisher “Maggot” is a mashing assault, with pure vitriol flooding your lungs, and smothering punishment clogging your pores. There is no mercy to be had, with the track’s fade-out being the only hint of solace you’ll find.

Shit isn’t always good, and there’s nothing wrong with embracing and exploring that. Misrule is an ideal path for to take if you want to drink in your own woe and fucking own it, and “Forced to Suffer” can be your soundtrack. What are all those permanently happy people so thrilled about? Misrule certainly doesn’t identify with them, and perhaps those super-positive liars could learn a lesson from all this pain.

For more on the band, go here: https://misrulegrind.bandcamp.com/releases

To buy the album, go here: http://sentientruin.com/releases/misrule-forced-to-suffer

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Sojourner’s foray into fantastical wonders enlightens ‘The Shadowed Road’

We don’t do a lot of music in the folk-metal territory for no real good reason. It’s a fun genre full of heart and passion, and while it might not be our preferred style of music, there are bands out there that make an indelible impression and whose music finds a proper place next to all the violence and doom soot in our record collection.

One of those bands is Sojourner, a group that’s spread over different areas including New Zealand, Switzerland, and Italy and whose music can give you a boost of energy even on your shittiest of days. The band’s second record “The Shadowed Road” has arrived, and it’s a tour-de-force of power and passion, seven tracks spread over nearly 52 minutes that are both metallic and full of wonder. This isn’t the style of folk metal that makes you think of drinking in a sunburnt field all day and wearing weird clothing (and there is zero wrong with that). These sound like fantastical adventures on which you’re invited to partake, and some of the waves are violent and bruising. The band—Emilio Crespo (vocals), Mike Lamb (guitars, piano, synth), Chloe Bray (guitars, tin whistle, vocals), Mike Wilson (bass), and Riccardo Floridia (drums)—capitalizes on what they did so well on their 2016 debut “Empires of Ash,” and the music here can be a perfect escape from your daily frustrations as you battle alongside them. This album is a joint effort of Avantgarde and Folkvangr, giving it a wider reach and a ton of ways to hear it or own it.

“Winter’s Slumber” kicks off the record with keys dropping in, a glorious riff overtaking, and an approach that reminds a bit of modern-day Amorphis. Grim growls from Crespo mix with Bray’s clean singing, creating a fascinating dynamic, while the song surges. Whistles push, synth creates a fog, and the vocals wrench as the song comes to its end. “Titan” is ominous as it begins, sending chills, and then the track opens with the wail of, “Nothing will ever be the same again!” The song punches as it bubbles, with fast, melodic guitars bringing a sense of Iron Maiden histrionics, and the whirry synth mixes with the brutal growls to play tricks on your mind. “Ode to the Sovereign” begins with synth glow as the song unfurls and eventually bursts open. The vocals crush, while the chorus swells, and Bray’s voice floats above the mystical keyboard lines, sending you back over the triumph and into a welling pool.

“An Oath in Sorrow” has gothy keys dripping and an aura of calm before the serenity is pierced. Bray’s voice carries us through, wondering, “What have you become?” as the band sets a mid-tempo assault. Later, Crespo belts out devotion, noting, “You were always there by my side,” with the battle moving into the dark, and the end sending charges. “Our Bones Among the Ruins” is punchy with creaking growls and a blistering pace. The guitars bubble and lighten the way, while the song later draws back, allowing keys to flourish before the track bursts anew, blasting everything into a mist. “Where Lost Hope Lies” is the longest cut at 9:53, and it starts in shadowy cleanliness before the track erupts. Bray’s voice sweeps into the atmosphere, as the band provides an equal amount of energy and heaviness. The leads go off, while the drums lay waste, and then the pace eases up to allow a breath of woodwinds into the scene. But it’s not long until the track swallows the world, letting a raucous folk-style run to set up shop, sadness over distance and desperation to paint its colors, and the keys to splash its last jolts. The title track ends the record, and it’s very different from what preceded it in tone. The song is awash in sadness and vulnerability for the first part before Crespo’s growls join in, and the guitars open the sky. Emotion rushes and builds, with the guitars creating lightning, the dual vocals ensnaring your mind, and the track coming to a huge crescendo, leaving your heart a fluttering mess.

Sojourner’s excellent second effort “The Shadowed Road” is a huge step ahead for them, as they smear their folk-based creations with black metal fury and classic metal passion. This album bursts at the seams with strength and melody, and the songs will carve their way into your mind. The songs reek of old battles and struggles won, with the band hammering home these tales that will enrapture you as you immerse yourself in their world.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://folkvangrrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-shadowed-road

Or here: http://avantgardemusic.bigcartel.com/

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

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

Beorn’s Hall, Battle Dagorath get cassette versions of killer records via Folkvangr Records

Beorn’s Hall

A friend of mine whom I also work with just got a shipment of a bunch of cassettes a few months back. Knowing I’m down with albums on tape, she brought them in for me to see, and a coworker of ours was stunned that people still buy tapes. I told her there are labels that release their music primarily on cassette, and we’re going to visit one of those today.

We’ve hailed Folkvangr Records in the past, and they’re back with a trio of releases you definitely want to consider when making your record-buying budget. However, we will only be featuring two of those today, as the third one will be coming tomorrow. Both records are very different from each other, but there’s a good chance the audience for each will be interested in the other one. That sentence was OK, right?

New Hampshire-based duo Beorn’s Hall bring a savagery and passion to their Pagan-splashed black metal, and the band’s second offering “Estuary” is one electrifying listen. Following up last year’s debut record “Mountain Hymns,” the group—drummer/vocalist Vulcan and guitarist/bassist/keyboard player Rognvaldr—harness what is majestic about their New England-based home state with a folk-infused collection that sounds raw, emblazoned with nature, and burning with chaotic fires. This record that features nine songs (including an unexpected cover) reeks of black metal’s past glories, as it sounds like it was dreamt and created decades ago when the roots were just taking form. Their music can make your blood rush, and I’ve spent a ton of time poring over this record, as it reveals something new each time. This is a joint release with Folkvangr handling the cassette (its cover at is breathtakingly magical) and Naturmacht issuing the LP and CD.

After a woody, tribal-sounding intro cut, we dig right into “Dark Wood-Black Marsh” that emerges from acoustics and fog before wild howls erupt, and a fiery assault emerges. Some of this has a nice old-style black metal feel, sort of like Bathory, and that carries over onto other tracks including the awesome title cut that has doses of castle synth before launching into punishing thrash and folkish fury; “The Nurturing Soil” that is just a killer track, with a rousing chorus, accordion adding texture, and some truly feral moments toward the end that draw blood; “New Hampshire Rain” that, quite obviously, opens with a downpour before leading to a grisly, yet spirited attack complete with massive growls, great melodies, a dramatic shift into prog-fueled wonders, and as return to serving riffs that keep you bruised but well nourished. Then there’s that cover, a rustic take on The Grateful Dead’s “I Know You, Rider” that plays like it emanates from a crackling old record and drinks the spirit of the song but also adds the band’s gruff fingerprints. This is a really strong record you should make a point to hear.

Battle Dagorath, yet another duo, have been awfully busy the past couple years delivered two mammoth releases that redefined the idea of space-inspired black metal. Over the course of 2016’s “I – Dark Dragons of the Cosmos” and last year’s “II – Frozen Light of Eternal Darkness,” records that demanded a large chunk of your time to digest, the band expanded on its galactic vision, and you weren’t likely to tackle either with a single listen. Through a cassette box set courtesy of Folkvangr in partnership with Out of Season, both of these records are being presented in a single set that lasts an intense two hours, 17 minutes. But this is the perfect way to handle the work presented by vocalist/bassist/guitarist/drummer BSB and keyboard player Vinterriket, as you can start from the very first moments of the journey, through these 14 cuts, and into the wooshing, atmospheric conclusion. It’s a must-have package, especially if you enjoy pushing through the galaxies during your musical adventures.

It would be kind of pointless to sum up this entire package, plus it might be nice to leave some to the imagination for anyone who has yet to hear either record. “I” begins with “From the Black Sun’s Fire,” a quick introduction cut that feels like an eerie space movement, and then we’re right into “Phantom Horizons Beyond,” a beefy, 13:50 pounder that mixes speed and soot, as deranged howls make their way across the stars, and the music has sections where it feels equally alien and demonic. The melodies are thick, and the song offers servings of hypnosis. “Return to Gates of Dawn” has furious riffs, relentless chaos, and scorching vocals, with the guitars agitating the fires, squealing out like a bizarre transmission from beyond. “Transfixion of the Spheres” is a blur of madness, with the vocals doing plenty of damage, and keys washing in like a strange burst of cosmic dust. Eerie cleanliness makes your body shiver, and the track makes it feel like you’re traveling through an endless vortex.

“II” also starts with a short opener, “The Great Untuning” that gets your psyche ready for tracks such “Asteres Planetai” where an extended exposure to creeping winds feels like you’re trapped on an isolated planet with no other companion than the strange darkness. Once it opens, it’s ashen black metal that compels and terrifies. “Cast Their Ashes to the North Wind” is the longest song of the bunch at 19:12, and it sucks you right in, with wrenching melodies, blasts of dangerous madness, and even a stretch of calm that lets the storm die down, the cloud cover to change, and another burst of mauling devastation to carry you the end. The final two tracks are instrumental based, as “Supernal Realms” forces your head to swim as stars burst; and closer “Ignis Fatuus” is an ambient, spellbinding finish that melts among the galaxy and imprints its DNA on your psyche. You’ll be exhausted but enthralled when it’s over.

These are two excellent releases that will please any listener of challenging metal bands not satisfied with trends or status quo. They practically exist on separate planets, these two groups, but together they make for interesting journeys into music that will expand your horizons. Folkvangr always is a reliable place to find this kind of music, and these albums are well worth your absorption.

For more on Beorn’s Hall, go here: https://www.facebook.com/beornshall/

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

For more on the Battle Dagorath, go here: https://www.facebook.com/BattleDagorath/

To buy the album, go here: https://folkvangrrecords.bandcamp.com/album/i-dark-dragons-of-the-cosmos-ii-frozen-light-of-eternal-darkness

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

Canadian duo Ulvesang convey tumult, emotional torment on rustic, woodsy album ‘The Hunt’

I’ve never hunted. I never will hunt. It’s not in my DNA, and the very concept of it is greatly upsetting to me. I’m also a hypocrite as a meat eater, because it’s not like death of another hasn’t made it possible for me to be nourished, and in many ways, what those creatures went through likely was worse. It’s a constant moral struggle, and often I decide to just not think about it. I am a coward.

Ulvesang’s second effort “The Hunt” focuses on that very thing, and while there is potential glory and power derived from tracking down prey, there also is sadness in knowing that another living being lost its life for the struggle. This 10-track record follows the process as people gather, plans are made, strategies devised, and then all are off into the wilderness to bring back bounty. The duo of Alex Boyd and Ana Dujakovic (also of Astral Path) create mostly wordless folk music that isn’t metallic by definition but certainly could pull in fans of artists such as Neurosis, Wolves in the Throne Room, and Panopticon who also employ more rustic, rootsy sounds in their music. Even without words, the Canadian duo convey the emotion and devastation revolving around the story and create an album that can settle in your head and take you along for the sojourn.

“Invocation” starts the record as sort of an introduction, with winds whipping, crows calling, a singular drum tapping, and woodsy chants leading to “The Trial,” where a rush of acoustics starts. Melodies flush and travel, as wordless calls haunt, while the autumnal tones infect, and the final melody line, which would make a great black metal riff, pushes away. “The Dance” lights up and rivets, as chants hum, acoustics rustle, and the tempo pushes harder. The playing keeps lighting up before guitars drips away for good. “The End” has a solemn start, as the guitars spread their wings, and chimes and chants mix. Later on, the tempo shifts leading to keys plinking, cosmic wooshes, and a jarring finish you won’t sense coming. “The Hunt” has water rushing, as the acoustic guitars ignite, and a hearty melody makes its way toward the center. The track takes on a mystical strangeness, and ghostly chants take up the reins from there to the song’s end.

“The Break” starts with guitars awakening, spooky tones getting into your head, and a misty ambiance coating your face with condensation. The music builds from there, flooding over and leaving everything underneath it, buried. “The Run” has fires crackling, as guitars join in, and chants fill the air. The acoustics pace this run, as they bring melody and spirit, and then the song gives way to the sounds of a dark, isolated wooded area, with chirps filling the senses. “The Gloom” is solemn and sad, with keys glimmering and providing dim light, and then we’re on a journey that feels like it takes place in a boat on an unlit tributary. The feeling lasts until the final draining seconds, pulling into the mouth of “The Truth.” This is the one song with actual lyrics and singing (Boyd handles the tale), and a deep, enrapturing tempo takes us into tapped drums, elegant playing, and a push through troubled waters. Closer “Močvara/мочвара” feels like the perfect bookend, as waters cascade, your head feels like it’s swimming in fog, and the whole thing comes to a chilling, uneasy finish, leaving you to tie up the loose emotional ends yourself.

Ulvesang’s music pushes past metal’s borders, almost as if we’re travelling beyond the Wall to meet wilder creatures living different lives on “The Hunt.” The record is many layered and filled with tumult, something it might take a few listens to fully absorb. This will be a great fall companion, especially on a cold, foggy day when the chill is at its apex. You’re not participating in the communal hunt yourself but living vicariously through the mission.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.nordvis.com/ulvesang-a-20

Or here: https://folkvangrrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-hunt

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

And here: https://www.facebook.com/folkvangrrecords/

PICK OF THE WEEK: Vile Creature’s grim nuclear death doom story chars ‘Cast of Static and Smoke’

The end is here. We’ve heard people talk about it, speculate on it, worry, and make predictions. The two minutes to midnight expired so fast, and in the aftermath, nuclear holocaust arrived, and fallout rained down over what would otherwise be a lovely, picturesque autumn day, the one that would warm the heart about the splashes of color and need to layer. All of that is gone.

That’s the sentiment that greets you on Vile Creature’s devastating new record “Cast of Static and Smoke,” a dystopian sci-fi tale about the end of civilization brought on by nuclear devastation. The record falls at an opportune moment, when the world seems to be at a crossroads as to how we will proceed into the future, and if we even have that future at all. This ambitious release, accompanied by a 16-page book that includes the lyrics and the entire story itself, is a sludge-splashed, caustic doom metal opus created by the Canadian duo of drummer/vocalist Vic and guitarist/vocalist/percussionist KW. This record, their follow-up to 2015 debut “A Steady Descent Into the Soil” and 2016 EP “A Pessimistic Doomsayer,” is a massive step forward for the band. They already were impressive on their first two releases, but this one pushes them even further ahead, as it’s the band finding the path they were meant to be on and burning any previous roads. These four songs spread over a caustic 44 minutes are utterly devastating most of the time, achingly heartbreaking at others as our fate, of which we weren’t even in control, is selfishly torn from our grasp.

“Water, Tinted Gold and Tainted Copper” is a 10:20 opener that details the aftermath of the nuclear terror, with narrator Erin Severson informing, “The end came swiftly,” before the band is full bore into bludgeoning. Their terrifying power blasts over the fall skies they detail, with the music flooding and gut-wrenching wails bringing pain. The track pulls back its tempo, though still mauling, while Vic wails, “Got what we thought we wanted, what we thought we knew, touched the wires together.” From there, gargantuan pounding erupts, as growls and noise combine, and guitars shriek before exiting. “Circuits, Bending and Breaking” starts with a steady push from the drums and tortured cries behind them. The misery is amplified further, as the track cuts through the mud, and brutality leaks from every crevice. Animalistic growls register overhead, nearly bringing your heart to a stop, while the pace then pounds relentlessly, with noise spreading before bleeding away.

“Forest, Subsists as a Tomb” is the longest cut, a 13:36 monster that starts with keys blazing, feedback stinging, and a sorrowful ambiance that extends its black arms. Drone collects before the song starts gaining steam, while growls slice through the body of the music, and the drums bash away. The band hits a thrashier pattern, delivering devastation, while the vocals shred the senses before Severson delivers another dialog, leading into the final stretch built with mashing playing, bone-splitting energy, and a finality that sends shockwaves through your body. “Sky, in Descending Pieces” brings the record to a close and is the shortest piece at a still-generous 8:52. The track has a cold, trickling start as the music unfurls slowly, with the growls sounding like they’re buried under waves. Anguish is splashed over everything, from the guttural vocals, with KW howling behind all of that, and Severson again speaks as the tale draws to a close. The music is wrenching, the cries feel like they are desperate for hope, and the song ends with darkness prevailing, as all existence is rendered a memory.

Vile Creature deserve to be acknowledged as one of the true special new bands lifting doom up by its lofty tent poles, and “Cast of Static and Smoke” is an awesome show of force both musically and philosophically. This band has put up with their fair share of bullshit from people who disagree with their battle to defend their and others’ sexuality, politics, and social issues, but this duo only come out of that much more galvanized. Look no further than this record that proves Vile Creature are strong as fuck, and their crushing visions and expression is enough to bring cowards to their knees.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://www.halooffliesrecords.com/label-releases/halo108-vile-creature-cast-of-static-and-smoke-lp/

Or here: http://www.drycoughrecords.com/product/vile-creature-cast-of-static-and-smoke-lp

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

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

Crippled Black Phoenix’s takes on songs that influenced them highlight ‘Horrific Honorifics’

Photo by Zsolt Reti

There’s a classic Patton Oswalt bit about how, if he could go back in time, he would choose to kill George Lucas to prevent the creation of the prequels. It’s all about not caring about where the thing you like came from. There’s some validity in that way of thinking, but that doesn’t apply across the board for every situation.

Take, for example, the bands you like and listen to on a daily basis. It’s often interesting to dig into their roots to find out what music pushed them to create their own catalog and if there isn’t something mysterious sitting behind the curtain. Crippled Black Phoenix have been an important band for me not only because of their music but also their messages (to me, “Bronze” feels like an accidental daily soundtrack to the Trump era), and their new EP “Horrific Honorifics” instantly intrigued me because they were giving their own treatment to six songs that have meant a lot to them and their own creative process. Not surprisingly, these songs run the gamut of styles and colors (from punk to doom weirdness to rustic Midwestern rock), and taking a journey with these cuts not only reveal more about the band—the mammoth lineup includes Justin Greaves (guitar, drums, saw, keyboard, acoustic guitar, banjo, effects, samples”; Daniel Änghede (vocals, electric guitar); Mark Furnevall (synthesizer, keyboards, backing vocals); Daisy Chapman (piano, vocals); Ben Wilsker (drums); Niall Hone (bass); Jonas Stålhammar (guitar); and Belinda Kordic (vocals)—but also might introduce you to something you never encountered before.

“False Spring” is their take on the 2009 Arbouretum track, and it’s punchy, with the singing floating, and atmosphere backing the power. Cosmic blips join sweltering soloing before it powers out. Their version of Swans’ 1992 cut “The Golden Boy That Was Swallowed By the Sea” is one of the highlights, as they dress the track with murky synth, a dreamy pace, and singing that makes your head swim, as the desperation is tangible. Kordic takes over on vocals for their version of Magnolia Electric Co.’s “Will-O-the-Wisp,” a personal soft spot as I love everything Jason Molina has ever done. Kordic’s singing sells the sadness and pain, which filled Molina fully, and their slight twist on the song adds their own moody touch to this classic.

Nomeansno’s old punk cut “Victory” gets pulled back just a bit, but the song still bites pretty hard. The track gets a foggy, gazey treatment, and lines such as, “I will not admit defeat,” hits you from a totally different angle. I didn’t know much about The God Machine going into this, but I dug more into their stuff after hearing this version of “In Bad Dreams.” The line, “You only see me in bad dreams,” is a crusher, and the band does a nice job paying off that depressive realization. The last track is the most insane, a take on the Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s 1973 gem “Faith Healer” delivered with dark energy, comically deep crooning, and organs swimming in and out of the madness. “Can I put my hands on you?” sounds sinister, not helpful, as the song spills out with a vicious edge.

Crippled Black Phoenix’s epic, emotional, politically charged, apocalyptic rock is like nothing else out there, and being able to examine some of the roots of their towering tree of woe has been quite fulfilling. These six songs are really interesting choices, and they led me down some avenues I never traveled before. I’m always hungry for new original content from this band, but considering the fingerprints they put on these songs, it’s almost like getting just that.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/CBP444/

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

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

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