PICK OF THE WEEK: Crowhurst’s three-album cycle closes with added darkness, doom noir on ‘III’

Torture and pain might help make for devastating music that can help soundtrack our lives or push us through struggle, but what sometimes gets forgotten is the artist behind that music who has interpreted bruising sorrow in such a tumultuous way. Anything that revels in misery and torture has to be born from something emotionally damaging, which makes the music heavy and affecting.

Over the course of who-knows-how-many releases, Crowhurst, the project long helmed by sole creator Jay Gambit, has been one that’s bled with prolific force. As much music as Gambit releases, many of which are mini efforts and singles, he finds a way to not repeat himself and always dig into something extra. That’s never been truer than of “III,” the final part of a three-album cycle and some of the darkest music of the artist’s entire run. The music here barely resembles what was presented on the other two records—2015’s “I” and 2016’s “II—tied to “III,” much less what else he’s put into the world since the project’s inception not even a decade ago. On this record, you’re met with noise, black metal corrosion, and doom, but also rustic folk, dark singing that’ll carve a hold in your heart, and a vulnerability that puts Gambit on the line over and over, with him bleeding for his audience willingly. He’s joined here by musicians from the gloriously resuscitated Caina (Andy Curtis-Brignell), Primitive Man (Ethan Lee McCarthy), Sol Invictus (Tony Wakeford), and Lycia (Tara Vanflower), adding more grit to this already grimy picture.

“I Will Carry You to Hell” starts the record with noise simmering, choral sounds emerging, and then things are torn apart, with an angelic backing adding chills. Organs spill while Gambit howls, “Into the earth with us,” as the track comes to a grim conclusion. “Self Portrait With Halo and Snake” gives the first glimpse of the brand of morbidity woven into this record as guitars bustle and a western noir feel spreads over, as Gambit notes, “You are the mirror I stare into.” A violent outburst arrives, with Gambit howling, “I’ll be waiting for you,” as shrieks rain down, melody mixes colors, and everything melds into the orange and purple horizon. “The Drift” has noises floating as Gambit pokes at “our anger and our nothingness” while guitars wash over. Shrieks rip into the picture while a spacey guitar haze hangs overhead, a lush shadow gives the song an uneasy vibe, and the sound washes away into a nightmare.

“La Faim” gets started with guitars pushing in as doomy, burly riffs being to reign. Gambit’s singing reminds of Glenn Danzig’s bluesy howl, as the verses slowly punish, building to utter, complete hell. The music melts and crushes, thrashing away, leaving devastation behind. “Ghost Tropic” starts calmly, with Gambit deeply singing about “crawling, bone fragments hanging.” The track picks up and twists screws into the senses, as Gambit cries, “There is no light here, there is no fight here,” as the wiry fury goes out into a buzzing cloud. Closer “Five Characters in Search of an Exit” is named after an old episode of the “Twilight Zone,” and things get started off very heavily and monstrously. The track feels like it’s here to crush your chest as a destructive assault is mounted, and cosmic zapping blasts into the atmosphere. Weird beats scrape away as the blasting feels non-stop, as Gambit screams, “There is no end in sight!” while everything is consumed by a relentless industrial blaze.

Gambit has channeled murky chaos and emotional turmoil over the course of this three-album cycle, and “III” is the darkest, most foreboding of the trio. These songs will crawl into your mind and test your psyche, a battle that you won’t realize how dangerous it is until it’s upon you. Crowhurst albums never can be predicted as far as how they’ll play out and, even with that in mind, “III” will rattle your cages like no other release in the project’s massive catalog.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://prophecy.lnk.to/crowhurst-III

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

Waste of Space Orchestra mix psychotic forces that travel space and time on ‘Syntheosis’

Photo by Maija Lahtinen

Space operas are a timeless bit of cinematic storytelling that never seem to get old or tired. Soaring past stars, watching great battles, and meeting characters from other times and dimensions is a huge part of the drama, and it makes for a captivating time that helps you forget your worries for a while.

It’s not that Waste of Space Orchestra are here to usher in a new Star Wars or something, but the music packed into “Syntheosis,” their imaginative, explosive first record, should be enough to keep imaginations working overtime to the point of sweating blood. That sounds like what the 10 musicians from Oranssi Pazuzu and Dark Buddha Rising who comprise this project had when they dreamt this material for a mystery performance at last year’s Roadburn and then hit the studio to reinterpret their creation. Three characters—The Shaman (voiced by Vesa Ajomo), The Seeker (Juho Vanhanen), and The Possessor (Marko Neuman)—go on a deep search for knowledge as the three beings are sucked through a portal into outer space. After their struggles on their path, they’re forced to melt their minds and experiences together to become one collective consciousness. This story is told amid a pit of psychedelic space metal, black metal, doom, and many other elements, making each trip in this nine-part journey a bend that’ll keep you guessing to the end.

“Void Monolith” opens the record with quiet, trippy sounds, making you see stars before the track bursts open with guitars sprawling all over. Whirry and strange sounds envelop, amping up the drama and turning right into “The Shamanic Vision,” Ajomo’s cut that opens with rustic acoustics and drums circling. Finally, monstrous screams barrel through the gates as the keys sweep over everything, making minds race. Strange air enters the atmosphere as gurgly growls return, the drums sets the frantic pace, and the track ends in dust. “Seeker’s Reflection” focuses on Vanhanen’s role beginning with steady percussive waves, cool riffs boiling, and wordless calls rousing the ready. A sci-fi feel warps the edges of the song as melodies swell, and the sounds flood the space like a cosmic nightmare. Zaps, fire, and chaos boils over, setting the stage for “Journey to the Center of Mass” that starts jazzy and chilled out. A trance-inducing, hypnotic vibe is achieved right away, pushing the journey through the first half of the song before doom clouds arrive to darken the area. From there, the track gets vicious, landing blows and setting up a bizarre ambiance that spreads, bubbles, and destroys. The madness liquefies and turns into a mind-altering space of chimes and fuzziness that ushers the track to a black hole.

“Wake Up the Possessor” is Neuman’s cut that begins with spooky keys and a female voice out front entrancing and bringing a heavy sense of eeriness. The savage growls then land, with the other voice carrying behind the carnage and the bass work buzzing and driving. The pace sweeps before opening into a storm, the shrieks utterly destroy, and a brief pullback gives way for some hearty bellowing before the tracks chugs out. “Infinite Gate Opening” moves us further along in the story with growled chants, the drumming burning a pathway into your head, and a strange atmosphere that fills the room. That drills into a total psychotic breakdown, a complete mind-fuck that dwells in galactic noise and tension. “Vacuum Head” is heavy and aggressive, with the bass playing smearing, noise blaring, and the tempo drilling into the earth. The track gets raucous with crazed shrieks, the drumming rounding out, and the spirit bleeding into the stars. “The Universal Eye” has stinging noise, sounds that swirl around planets, and a transmission that fades out and heads into the 13:25-long closing title track. Synth butts heads with burly playing, harsh shrieks, and painful shots that damage the mind. Once the track returns to earth, the playing goes doomy and sludgy, pounding away along with the animalistic growls. The music continues to double down with the noise spreading its wings and soaring off into the distance.

Hyperbolic as this may be, you’re not bound to find a record the rest of the year, or at any time, that will sound anything like “Syntheosis.” Waste of Space Orchestra may have been born out of the desire for experimentation, but they’ve hit upon something that’s trippy and completely fucked up. This is a space saga that goes outside the human mind, defies everything you know physically and spiritually, and delivers a new experience every time you spend the more than 70 minutes with this animal.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.svartrecords.com/product/waste-space-syntheosis-album/

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

Belgian trio Brutus mash heart, emotion into heavy, tumultuous second record, infectious ‘Nest’

When hearing a record for the first time (or the 100th), no one should have to tell you whether the band’s hearts and souls are in the music. That’s something you should just feel. It should be as apparent as anything because emotion is obvious when it comes to music, and when artists spill buckets of that into their sound, you can’t help but be blown back.

Belgian band Brutus leave no doubt whether they live, breathe, sweat, and bleed every ounce of their music. It should only take mere minutes into the band’s great second record “Nest” to give you the answer. These 11 songs burst with power, melody, and pure, genuine feeling, fueled by vocalist/drummer Stefanie Mannaerts forceful, infectious singing, and backed by guitarist Stijn Vanhoegaerden and bassist Peter Mulders. The band pours all sorts of elements into their sound from metal to doom to punk to hardcore to even some pop strains, and it makes them a really tough beast to classify if you’re trying to describe them. Maybe don’t worry about that. Their music is to be experienced and not put into words (um, even though I’m about to do that), and this record is a massive jolt into the spring that’ll get your blood racing in your veins.

“Fire” kicks off the record with jangling guitars and noises hovering as the vocals explode with power. “I’m breaking your walls down,” Mannaerts wails as the track blazes with melody and power, as she finally pleads, “I need water on me now.” “Django” has a punchy tempo and melodic gaze, with wordless howls charging up and the track chugging, with Mannaerts insisting, “I’m never going to leave your house.” “Cemetery” has shouted vocals, a louder attack, and the drums utterly bashing with the guitars swelling into a cloud. The vocals crash into the scene, delivering emotion and tumult as it comes to an end. “Techno” is my personal favorite on here, opening with jabbing bass that hints to something coming later before the guitars open up and glimmer, as Mannaerts calls, “This is my last chance.” The track calms a bit, with Mannaerts declaring, “I want to dance in a big, big city,” a refrain that returns later when the volume and playing explode with energy. “Carry” is a little poppier in the front, blasting ahead and delivering another push of powerful bursts of singing, guitars gazing with bright lights, and the back-end crushing chests.

“War” starts clean and pulled back with the singing echoing and the playing drawing at your heart. “Unleash your war,” Mannaerts demands before the song blows open, the intensity strikes, and the guitars crash land, helping deliver spiritual bloodshed. “Blind” begins with guitars cascading, the tempo landing blows, and the drums turning bones into dust. “There’s nothing left!” Mannaerts howls over a poppy tempo and the track’s last gashes. “Distance” opens with a killer riff before the music sweeps over a wider path, and added colors rush to the surface. “Make our time longer,” Mannaerts pleads as the track ends with drops of blood crashing to the ground. “Space” has a bit of a pop-punk edge, especially vocally, but then darker guitars arrive and simmer, as the body bubbles along. The track is equally sugary and shadowy as it stretches out to its end. “Horde V” is faster and rowdier, with the drums splitting nerve endings and a melodic wave sweeping in and swallowing everything whole. The music rallies as the track builds, breaking through walls and coming to a huge, fiery end. “Sugar Dragon” ends the album at 7:44, and it is solemn as it arrives. The track has a slower, hurting pace, with Mannaerts wailing, “When you say my name, I’m lost.” The music rains down as the pain is released, getting murky and more devastating as it goes. The song explodes with power and bleeds with tumult, as the tide gets larger and larger, the emotion spills one more time, and the record ends on a heart-blistering crescendo.

There’s no questioning Brutus’ heart and emotions that are fully on display with “Nest,” and that’s obvious from the moment the music attacks your ears. This is an easy band to get behind, one you want to see reach the stratosphere because you can tell they mean every ounce of this, and it’s infectious as hell. They might not be the heaviest or most brutal, but Brutus is a band that always will give you everything they have and won’t leave you with any questions of their intent or false impressions.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.hellomerch.com/collections/brutus

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

Shabti’s technically devastating hybrid of black and death metal blasts on ‘Trembling and Shorn’

Photo by Joe Orifice

A bunch of us just did a trip from Pittsburgh to NYC to see the mighty Ulver (no review, sorry!), and along our excursion we discussed progressive music and how it’s been bastardized over the years by cheese and wankery and that the good stuff gets caught in that hell. Same goes for technical death and black metal, as so many bands try to wow you with skill that they leave their hearts behind.

I’m often hesitant to jump into a record that has that “technical” tag because I’ve been burned by way too many records that are recital pieces rather the type of metal albums I enjoy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But a deep dive into Shabti’s second record “Trembling and Shorn” provided no such worries go into the music based on a few things. First, the band contains members of groups including Falls of Rauros, Thrawsunblat, and Obsidian Tongue who I long have admired, and because their first record “Paracusia” was a solid one when it dropped six years ago. Now, the band—guitarist/vocalist Rob Cook, bassist Brendan Hayter, drummer Ray Capizzo—is back with their bloody, sharpened tools and their devastating serving of their death and black metal hybrid that should twist your mind grapes the same way as artists such as Krallice, Spectral Voice, and Anicon do so well.

“Shrouded and Veiled” begins the record with ripping intensity, menacing growls, and riffs encircling and mystifying. Vicious screams and tricky playing combine, all the while you’re being lulled into a trap from which there is no escape. Leads flow though, the bass bends like rubber, and the roars blast back in, leaving you flattened. “Seven Billion Souls” has guitars sprawling, exploding while they crunch. Immersive growls gurgle, while a melodic fury is unleashed, blasting shards of glass all over. Shrieks and growls combine into one monster as the leads unveil drama, and you’re swept under their waves of madness. Gravelly growls mar while the bass slinks, bringing the song to a smearing end. “Sanctify” has a calculated start before it opens its jaws and swallows you whole. The drums consume as the growls lay waste, with the track getting thrashy and mean as it goes along. The intensity continues to pick up at the end, with the leads sweeping and the song ending in a void of noise.

“The Oracle and the Architect” explodes with a pure death assault that has guitars soaring and vicious, violent punishment on its agenda. The track finds a way to be dangerous and inventive, thunderous and flexible, bringing things to an end in a twist of muscle. “My Doppelganger” has strong riffs, black metal-style riffing, and growls and shrieks that shred the ear drums. The track jumps all over the place with the guitars chewing up scenery, the playing getting weirder as it goes along, and burly growls landing body blows designed to induce hyperventilation. “Below Deck” ends the record with a canon shot of power and a strong buildup that blends right into bloody trickery. The tracks spirals and simmers before floating off into the cosmos to deliver even more confusion. Screams echo as the guitars corrode, adding a strange, albeit temporary, warmth before emotional soloing crescendos, and the track gushes guts and blood right up to its finish.

Bands such as Shabti remain as a stark reminder not to pass judgement on music simply because it’s affixed with a descriptor that might turn your belly. This band’s brand of technical death and black metal is played insanely well, yes, but it also has the passion and emotion much of the music that often falls under this umbrella lacks. This is razor sharp and punishing, a record that’s here to destroy you and deface your physical and mental well-being.

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

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

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Magic Circle hit metallic roots on the mark with sweltering new ‘Departed Souls’

Photo by Frank Huang

It’s a pretty great time when music can take you and transport you somewhere else, letting you soak in a different environment for a while. Music should be a sort of escape, right? At least some of it should be. That’s why when putting on a record and feeling your mind occupy a different space is such a ridiculously rewarding journey.

Boston traditional doom warriors Magic Circle pull that off expertly with their expansive new record “Departed Souls,” a collection that I’m not 100 percent convinced wasn’t created with help of a time machine, some 1970s herb to smoke, and vintage recording equipment that just so happened to find its way back to 2019 and 20 Buck Spin’s release schedule. This album makes me relive the days when I discovered NWOBHM (there are elements of that here as well) along with other bands who simply were lumped under the umbrella of “heavy metal” without all the sub-genre classifications. It’s actually nice to be old enough to remember that. Anyway, with these eight songs, Magic Circle (their members also play with bands such as Innumerable Forms, Sumerlands, and Lifeless Dark) leave you intoxicated, wondering if you’re really living in days passed four decades ago amid some bizarre vehicle that got your there. The band—vocalist Brendan Radigan, guitarists Chris Corry and Renato Montenegro, bassist Justin DeTore, drummer Q—takes you even further into the clouds as they did on 2015’s “Journey Blind” and fully commit you to existing outside your headspace for 45 minutes. You’ll be happy you did.

“Departed Souls” kicks off the record with killer riffs, and early ’80s vibe, and Radigan’s voice reaching into the stratosphere, which it does often on this record. The song has a nice breakdown later with some great lead guitar work, fiery playing, and an ambiance that feels like an era long lost. “I’ve Found My Way to Die” has guitars charging, the rhythm buzzing and Radigan’s vocals sweltering. The chorus rushes through a psyche haze as Radigan later wails, “I will never die with the herd, I got to make my stand,” while the guitar work soars, and the cut bashes closed. “Valley of the Lepers” has doom-rich riffs that kick in and pace the song slowly. “Welcome to the depths, my friend,” Radigan warns as the guitars launch and give off echo. The tempo begins to trudge as the soloing soars into the scene, then psychedelic keys end everything in a fog. “A Day Will Dawn Without Nightmares” begins clean before it gets trippy, with hand drumming adding to the atmosphere. Vocals then tear out into the night while keys blare, mind-numbing melodies swim, the drums get more rapid, and the intensity froths over.

“Nightland” has drums encircling before the riffs whip into shape, and a forceful tempo is unleashed, pushed by the driving singing. Dual guitars combine, a gong crashes, and the pace changes into something reflective for a stretch. Things then ramp up again as the guitars swagger with life, the soloing glimmers, and the track rides out into the night. “Gone Again” has bluesy keys slinking before the playing gets muddy, and teeth are sunk into the meat of the song. “She never comes here anymore,” Radigan calls while a spacey vibe settles in before guitar buzz cuts through that for a bit before the heavens open again, bringing starlight to the track’s storming end. “Bird City Blues” is an instrumental piece with guitars quivering and charges going down the spine, albeit gently, and that paves the way for closer “Hypnotized” and its jangling guitars and Radigan’s singing launching into the night. The track is slow driving yet chunky, with the singing keeping the calculated drive in tact before the guitars light the torches. From there, the playing is reflective but scarred, with light blinding your eyes before everything fades into the background.

Magic Circle already were a really stellar band before their third opus “Departed Souls” arrived, but this album takes them into rarified air as one of the modern era’s most imaginative classic doom bands. Every inch of this thing feels like a dream, a travel back to a time when we lived simply for the blood of metal and not for the arguments over the validity of offshoot sounds and movements. This is pure, real, and a savagely good time, something we don’t get enough of these days.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://listen.20buckspin.com/album/departed-souls

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

Triumvir Foul focus vitriolic fury toward godhead on filthy, nasty EP ‘Urine of Abomination’

Rage toward organized religion is likely at an all-time high. I’m not getting into the reasons because they’ve been all over the news and social media, so I’m not here to teach anyone. That carries over, to some, to the actual deity they’re worshipping, as what’s supposed to be a peaceful, pious effort many times turns into something hateful and used to oppress others.

There are plenty of ways to show rage against that concept, and metal has been turning their fury toward the godhead pretty much since the genre was born. But some do it more violently than others, with Triumvir Foul proving their blood thirst is as savage and dangerous as anyone’s. To prove this, they have a new four-track EP “Urine of Abomination” to unleash on their listeners that is as warped and noise-fucked as anything they’ve ever done before. The Portland, Ore., band has been turning the screws for five years now, with two full-length efforts to their credit, but this might be the most destructive music they’ve ever created. The duo behind this infernal project—vocalist/guitarist/bassist Ad Infinitum (also of Ash Borer, Serum Dreg, etc.) and drummer Cedentibus (also of both those bands as well as Dagger Lust and others)—pour all of their vitriol and hatred into this record, seeking nothing but blasphemy and chaos.

“Urine of Abomination I” begins with noises scraping and burning, feeling like a marred attack on the senses before the track fully opens, and the death machine bursts. The growls lurch while the pace hammers away, with ugly guitars sprawling, the pain bleeding, and nasty, crazed bursts letting loose amid gurgling growls and a blistering assault. “Urine II” launches dirty death riffs and muddy stomping, with the playing cutting through flesh and the guitars chugging. The leads go off and burn intensely, keeping that hell going and pushing into “Urine III” that feeds on the remnants of what came before it. The track is thrashy as hell while the vocals lay waste, stomping through mud and blood before the assault goes off. The track lays unprotected shots to the face while corrosion eats everything away. “Urine IV” ends the record with a smashing intensity that opens the song, shit burning down everywhere, and violent death spasms mauling at your psyche. The guitars ignite with the drumming bashing in your skull, the guitars chew at your brain wiring, and static rises while a sound storm melts away the remainder of your muscles and bones.

Anyone with any sensitivity toward music that tears apart your faith might be monumentally upset by Triumvir Foul’s vile and scathing new EP “Urine of Abomination.” I’m guessing this duo won’t give a fuck about your feelings as they’re pissing away at something they feel has been destructive toward the world. This is black as hell, a torture session that is relentless and choked with soot.

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

Or here: https://invictusproductions.net/shop/

Or here: https://listen.20buckspin.com/album/urine-of-abomination

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

Or here: https://invictusproductions.net/

Or here: https://www.20buckspin.com/

Blackened hardcore smashers Totaled realize life is a pisshole, reveal that on horrific ‘Lament’

Nick Hancock

For many people, life doesn’t feel very good. It’s a constant struggle to get from sun up to sundown, and every step taken is like a fist right to the face. Depression and anxiety, two topics we seem to talk about at least once a week, are very real factors, plus there are other things that make living something that can feel like a cruel joke even on the best days.

Blackened hardcore bruisers Totaled have that idea nailed on their debut album “Lament,” an eight-track, 37-minute foray into confronting the end and bathing in the hell that is birth-life-death process we all face. So, yeah, this isn’t really party music, unless that bash is going to end in one’s own bloodshed. I don’t say these words with tongue implanted in cheek. We cover a wide array of dark, harrowing music on the regular, but there aren’t many times we encounter something this black and depressing that we need a break from the music after as single listen. Um, this album is good. I hope it isn’t taken that it isn’t, because it’s a goddamn fire-breather. But it hurts to endure, just like the life that’s detailed within this thing, which means they’ve achieved their goal with flying fucking colors. Normally this is the part where we introduce you to the members, but Totaled have chosen to remain anonymous, therefore we have just the music on which to focus. That’s the point anyway, isn’t it?

“Deplete” starts the record, a quick intro cut that combines noise and lonely acoustics before moving into “As Below” that explodes to life with black metal riffing and D-beat destruction. The growls smother while the guitars bask in morbid glory, rubbing your face in the pain. Wild howls erupt as the music plays tricks and delivers gut punches, then the guitars go off, the pace heats up, and everything ends in a smoking pile. “Eclipsed” ignites as the bass trudges in mud, and a speedy fury arrives to spit shrapnel. The drums maul while a speaking sample brings chilling fear, and a dark cloud hangs overhead while a tempered mid-section soaks in noise. Soloing rips into the picture, mixing with toxic sounds before coming to a stinging end. “Transience” rumbles open before launching itself into hardcore fury that gets melted in a blast furnace of power. Bass cuts through that while the track comes to a storming finish.

“Hypnosis” has riffs rounding up dangerous winds while the track begins hammering, and the growls deliver a nasty, unforgiving attitude. The pace is beastly, though it has its mesmerizing stretches, and screams and punishment combine to do a number on your sanity. A killer metallic solo torches flesh, sending heat and madness before retreating back to hell. “Desolate” starts with clean guitars before the body is opened fully, and the ground beneath it quakes with horror. Gruff growls combine with a massive tempo, spitting teeth and bleeding before the track gets thrashy and ends on a throbbing note. “Ominous” is a quick interlude with haunting guitar work and desolation, setting the stage for finale “Bereft” that starts with a tidal wave of emotion. The drums destroy while the growls pepper the body, as the sonic assault tears into dark soloing that instills fear. A path of sorrow is beaten as things calm down for a stretch, allowing the anxiety to marinate. Out of that, the pace kicks up again, the guitars aim to draw tears, and the track keeps burning until it runs out of fuel.

The epitome of hell and blackness penetrate every corner of “Lament,” as Totaled put every ounce of their pain and misery into these explosive eight songs. This record sounds like the frustrations and agonies of life being force-fed into a grinder and shat out the other end a mutilated, bloody pile. This is fury and panic mixed into the hellish meeting of black metal and hardcore, a record that hurts almost as much as actually being a person every day.

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

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

Woe drop surprise, examine the terrifying strains of life with devastating EP ‘A Violent Dread’

Photo by Jonathan McPhail

I would imagine the anti-anxiety drug makers are doing pretty well about now. I’m on them. I know several other people who are on them. They’re practically necessary to survive what we face day to day, not just when we leave the house but when we get online and absorb ourselves in the hell pit that is social media. How could anyone make it without a little help from the benzos?

Brooklyn-based black metal band Woe are not immune to the daily cycle of death (both mental and physical damages) and the constant blame cycle. It’s a rough terrain out there that is unforgiving, and they turned more attention to that on their last LP, 2017’s “Hope Attrition.” Like a surprise visitor here to help you fight the battles, the band returned last week with a surprise EP “A Violent Dread” that continues to examine our relentless destruction of one another. The release is a two-track affair containing the title cut and a cover of a classic song by Dawn, a criminally underappreciated Swedish band whose discography was just reissued two years ago by Century Media. This EP is compact and devastating, and it’s another teeth sharpening by the band—guitarist/vocalist Chris Grigg, guitarist Matt Mewton, bassist/vocalist Grzesiek Czapla, drummer Lev Weinstein—that’s never pulled punches and likely won’t start anytime soon.

We start with the title track, a 9:15-long affair that gets off to a raucous start with riffs flooding and raspy shouts delivering blows. The track sludges and crushes, cutting a mean swath through chaos as the guitars build up and Griggs’ growls slice into meat. Things head off to the races, letting the intensity bubble and your heart to race a little faster. Later on, the drumming turns stone to dust, and a round of melodic riffs set up shop and keep your mind occupied during the fiery explosion. Growls burst and swim through the manic, yet channeled playing, and the track delivers a final kill shot before ending in rubble. The band’s take on “The Knell and the World,” the opening track  from Dawn’s 1998 “Slaughtersun (Crown of the Triarchy)”, is a pretty honest reading from the band, right down to the synth lines that create fog that rises throughout the song while they pay homage to a group that Grigg said stands as one of his favorites. It’s a really strong version of the song that hopefully will send more people checking out Dawn’s powerful, albeit small, catalog of work.

Life’s not going to improve anytime soon, if it ever does, so we may always need a little something to quell the anxiety and pain eating away at our souls at pretty much every turn. Woe’s music always has been a perfect partner for releasing your aggression, and “A Violent Dread” won’t make you feel better about existence but should harden your fist whenever the need to fight arises. This is music for a worrisome and worrying era, a voice in the hopeless night that’s at least insisting it has your back as long as you’re struggling for a just cause.

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

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

Or here: https://vendettarecords.bigcartel.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://vendettarecords.wordpress.com/

PICK OF THE WEEK: Aussie funeral doom maulers Illimitable Dolor inject melody into ‘Leaden Light’

It should be obvious to anyone that if you’re going to delve into something called funeral doom that you’re about to be caught up in a world of misery and pain, delivered torturously slowly so that you can feel every drip of remorse. The more emotional the music the better, which helps these long dirges stay in your heart and mind, battering you along the way.

Australian doom dreamers Illimitable Dolor only have been working on their soul-crushing craft for half a decade now, but the band already has two devastating documents to their credit, the latest in the form of “Leaden Light,” a record that will make you feel the depth of the shadows and darkness. The five-track, nearly 52-minute opus that sprawls before you is an engaging, harrowing experience that will swallow you whole the second the music drips out. The band—guitarist/vocalist Stuart Prickett, keyboard player Guy Moore, bassist Dan Garcia, drummer/vocalist Yonn McLaughlin—is comprised of member of other notable acts such as the Slow Death, Nazxul, and Horrisonous, but their work here is fully infused in pure doom and the thoughts of what lies beyond. But it’s not just a sullen drubbing into oblivion. The band employs a great share of melody and texture that provide a look beyond doom’s normal boundaries to places other bands of this type often don’t tread.

“Armed He Brings the Dawn” is the longest song on the album, running 14:50, and it cracks open with waves crashing, organs reigning, and melodies crashing down, while the growls crush all your hopes and dreams. Menace and sorrow color the guitars work, and after a brief cleansing, things go into a dark haze highlighted by some great lead work. The track opens up, while the growls overwhelm, emotional guitar work makes your blood rush, and elegant melodies bring the song to its end. “Soil She Bears” opens slowly but dramatically as growls lurch and pianos drip blood. The pace hulks and bruises, with the growls bringing added pressure, and its textured, sorrowful final minutes are enough to make your mind soar.

“Horses Pale and Four” stretches over 11:27 and bleeds into the scene, bringing with it stretching growls, an emotional toll that’s almost too heavy to pay, and then a brief foray into the land of dreams, as synth extends their wings before the track reaches its bursting point. The pace bashes away, as the vocals scrape behind, and a heavy simmer sends off steam as well as encircling organs. Guitars lap with sadness, the growls gurgle blood, and the track trickles into mystery. “Leaden Light Her Coils” runs a healthy 13:48 and begins with keys dropping, power trembling, and the growls punching through the earth. The playing is weighty, while the vocals have a dirty drawl that collects dirt, and the guitars glimmer brightly. As the song goes on, sanity is shredded while melodies gush, and the band continues to add intensity and never-ending solemnity. Keys rain as the growls crawl up your back, the playing swells, and a haze takes over and pulls you into the murk. The record ends with “2.12.14” that is neck deep in drone when it arrives, and then a fog hovers over the area, bringing with it mourning guitars, gently unfolding melodies, and speaking lines that fall into growls. That’s the gateway for the final dose of anguish that fills up your chest and makes you quiver and break as the song reaches its end.

Illimitable Dolor’s reign has been short so far, but they have two hefty documents that demonstrate their might and majesty, with “Leaden Light” being their most adventurous. It’s easy to fall victim to their art, to get pulled into the dark sojourn on which they’re on and take yourself into terrain you never dreamed you’d visit before. This is a stellar, surprisingly compact record for this genre, one that doesn’t demand too much of your time but still will leave you quaking inside.

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

To buy the album (U.S), go here: https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

Or here: https://tometal.com/store/

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

Baltimore’s Noisem defy demise, regroup forces for splattering return offering ‘Cease to Exist’

Photo by Andrea Dieguez

Momentum doesn’t always mean anything. It can end in an instant because life and circumstances often get in the way, so just when you think you’re on top of the world, you can find things crumbling around you in an instant. What you do from there means a lot about your desire and hunger to get what you want, and sometimes people aren’t strong enough to endure and just give up.

Baltimore-based death-grind crushers Noisem seemed primed to break out as one of the most promising bands in a strong wave of underground thrash bands. Its members were high school age when their debut “Agony Defined” arrived in 2013 and made a massive impact, and things seemed even better when they followed that with “Blossoming Decay” two years later. But then things fell apart. Seemingly, anyway. Vocalist Tyler Carnes and bassist brother Billy fled the fold, leaving guitarist Sebastian Phillips and his drummer brother Harley to pick up the pieces. They did just that, reuniting with former fellow Necropsy member Ben Anft on bass and vocals, and they have stormed back with their third record “Cease to Exist,” an album that’s a step in a different direction, as well as forward. The thrashy strains remain, but the vocals are nastier, and they go more in a death grind direction, whipping out 10 tracks in an economic, but effective 21:31.

“Constricted Cognition” rips the record’s guts out with a thrashy feel that carries over a bit from their previous era, splattering growls, and the chorus killing before soloing rips in and burns things out. “Deplorable” takes control and buried bodies as gnarly growls and bone-splitting playing adds to the carnage. Some melodic sections blur into the madness before the cut bows out. “Penance for the Solipsist” is fast and mean with a nasty assault swinging for faces, the growls destroying, and drubbing playing leaving ample bruising, both mentally and physically. “Putrid Decadence” storms by with charging riffs, growls striking, and white-hot demolition that burns everything to the ground. “Filth and Style” is a 56-second blast of grind and twisted metallic gears that enact total violence.

“Eyes Pried Open” punches its way in with riffs smoking in a smothering, albeit catchy, assault. The guitars go off, scorching flesh alive, and the scream of, “Serotonin sickness, plaguing my existence,” hammers home the nauseating coffin nails. “Sensory Overload” rampages the gates with raspy growls and screams, devious menace, and bursts of speed that rush by you before you know you’ve been hit. “Downer Hound” crunches you within its teeth as a sweltering, yet utterly furious tempo wreaks havoc. The playing powders bones while the soloing ignites, ending in a burst of thunder. “So Below” already is blazing when it starts, sending shrapnel flying and loose metal into your eye sockets. Guitars light up while a sound cloud rises, leading into finale “Ode to Absolution,” where that noise melts into a slower, sludgier drive. The playing is ugly and doomy before the track is shredded, with speed and intensity multiplying before the terror is skyrocketed into space.

It will be interesting in a live setting to hear how Noisem pairs their older material with the deadly tracks that make up “Cease to Exist.” This is almost like hearing an altogether new band, albeit one with ties to a decaying body it left behind long ago. This new lease on life is something Noisem is using to their advantage, and they’ve never sounded quite as deadly as they do on this ripper of an album.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://listen.20buckspin.com/

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