Putrescine’s gritty death metal hits back against tryranny on smothering EP ‘The One Reborn’

The last week or so hasn’t exactly been full of victory formations if you’re one of those battling against fascism and absolute power, hoping the people you voted to elect were going to somehow do something right for a change. Everything boils down to money and control, hardly a new revelation, and it feels like there’s no real way out of this box.

Yet, that’s a defeatist attitude. Yeah, the deck is stacked, and we need a whole lot of things to turn our way before that power finally corrupts, but shit’s not over by a long shot. In this time, finding allies can be a great source of hope, and San Diego death metal trio Putrescine just might be the shot in the arm you need to get through. Their debut EP “The One Reborn” was released independently in August, but Tridroid Records has come through with a cassette release of this monster, compete with bonus content that makes the presentation even heftier. Putrescine’s brand of death is driving, monstrous, and to the point, and their antifascist views only serve to make them another deadly weapon in the battle against tyranny. Here, the band—Marie McAuliffe (vocals, drum programming), Trevor Van Hook (guitars, vocals), Zachary Sanders (guitars, bass)—tackles issues such as climate change, anti-vaxxers, and, yes, every metal band’s favorite subject (and for damn good reason) Bloodborne on an eight-track package that’ll cave in your skull.

“Child Size Coffins” opens by smashing its way in and delivering vintage-style leads that sound like they transcend the ages. Speaking of things that wormed their way through time, we’re talking pestilence here and people’s outright refusal to believe science. McAuliffe and Van Hook trade off vocals here, as they do throughout the record, giving it a pretty cool balance, and the howls of, “Diseases long eliminated wreaking havoc for no fucking reason, advancement condemned by idiots, ignorance becomes fatal,” deliver the guttural point. “Homestead” hits really close to where I live as it revolves around a labor dispute in my neck of the woods turned deadly in July of 1892. The track pounds away and leaves bruising, viciously thrashing its way through, while the basslines recoil. Soloing sprays shrapnel as the playing smears the blood while the leads swim, and the shout of, “Organized labor will not break, bring Carnegie to his knees,” works as a rallying cry.

“The One Reborn” arrives with fluttering leads and tales of the Pthumerian experiment failing. I’m turning on my PlayStation after this, by the way, I’m so worked up. Wild howls and growls create destruction together, while meaty riffs help bring the track to a monstrous finish. “Inhuman” strikes against superpower supremacy and its effects on smaller nations, and the track begins with a clip of House member Ilhan Omar (D., MN) destroying Elliott Abrams over the El Salvador massacre in 1982. The track rips with the same disgust and intensity, mowing down the elite with savagery, while warped paces turn your eyes in your head. “Entropy” has guitars sweltering and punchy riffs tearing open the belly of the song, while satisfying crunch pumps your blood as the song examines our fragility in the universe and the way we are ushering in our own end. The use a section of a Carl Sagan quote to wrap this up, with him warning, “The trap door beneath our feet swings open,” speaks to our fatal mistakes and lack of hope of correcting them. The bonus material contains an industrial-overhauled version of “dS_0” that bathes in synthy scum, while demo version of “Child Size Coffins” and “Inhuman” give you a taste of their raw earlier forms.

There’s a major fight ahead here in the States the next 9-10 months, and while smart, tactical movements as well as a swell of enthusiasm for the cause are bound to be the proper medicine, let’s not totally kick rage and chaos off the agenda. Putrescine’s music can be a perfect companion, and while they might not completely be aiming at governmental leadership on “The One Reborn,” it’s pretty safe to assume they’re in the camp of people lashing back. This is a smashing first effort that hopefully has a full-length serving not too far behind.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Putrescine-464280534319064/

To buy the album, go here: https://tridroid.bandcamp.com/album/the-one-reborn

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

Wrekmeister Harmonies tackle struggles that keep you awake overnight on ‘We Love to Look…’

We’ve all had those nights where our thoughts eat away at us. Maybe it’s a pile of regrets or something we didn’t do quite right or the deterioration of a relationship, but it gets inside your head and gnaws away, making entering the gates of sleep an impossibility. Making it to morning in one piece mentally is a challenge that must be overcome before starting a new day.

These struggles are at the heart of “We Love to Look at the Carnage,” the new offering from Wrekmeister Harmonies and one of their most darkly reflective yet. And that’s saying something. The band’s core of JK Robinson and Esther Shaw headed to a cabin in Woodstock to record this music in isolation, later sending the work to electronics artist Jamie Stewart (of Xiu Xiu) and longtime collaborator/drummer Thor Harris (Swans) to flesh out their parts and make this into a greater whole. Lyrically, that struggle is woven into these pieces. The record, also inspired by Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations and his themes of stoicism, grapples with these demons that haunt us but in ways that do not show outward stress and struggle, which is a lot to ask. Maintaining one’s grace and keeping a level of positivity through the pain can help one realize perhaps things are not as bad as they seem.

“Midnight to Six” starts the record in a hush as angelic notes enter the room, and Robinson’s speak-singing lurches along. Keys drip and violins blend into the fray while Robinson calls, “With a pain in my side, all the hours collide along a fault line,” as all of the elements rise into a greater beast, casting an impossible shadow before leaning into “Still Life With Prick Cancer” that begins ominously. The track has a late-night desert vibe as it begins before the guitars punch in, and the noises howl. Spaciness creeps in as Robinson notes, “Locked in silence at 4 a.m., a flower blooms inside my chest, with so much passion it makes the blood sing.” Guitars and strings team up and explode, creating a sonic commotion as rustling sets off warning bells, and the track is buried in a sea of drone.

“Coyotes of Central Park” also eases into its life cycle, guitars bubbling and keys slinking, while Robinson bellows, “See how they dance in the pale blue moonlight, no one hears them, no one knows the savage beauty of having the moon by the throat.” The keys chill while the cold of post-midnight fills your lungs, making the unease tangible and tough with which to contend. “The Rat Catcher” sneaks into the scene, hoping you won’t see it approaching as it carves its path. “Look over there, whether you can see me or not I don’t care,” Robinson prods as the tension boils noticeably, feeling like a trace has been activated as a deep drone delivers thickened darkness, and the calm and echoing chimes mix into closer “Immolation.” Initially, the song feels far breezier than its title suggests. “There’s blood on the tile and a bruise on my cheek, and the hissing prick in my ear finds the time to speak,” Robinson admits as the track takes its time developing its menace. Strings and keys play together and hypnotize while snarled rant causes flesh to crawl. “In the aching silence of your absence, I used to feel love,” Robinson emits painfully, and around him are reverberating tones and swatches of sound that inhibit your bones as the record ends.

The inability to rest amid internal struggle can tax one to one’s very limits, and finding a way through that can ask a lot of someone, maybe even too much. “We Love to Look at the Carnage” is a glimpse into one such incident and the ghosts that sweep in an out of the room while the mental battle is taking place. Wrekmeister Harmonies always was a project that could provoke thought as you take on their records, but this is one that digs even deeper into something that impacts us all.

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

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

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Frayle unload over Catholicism, witchcraft on imaginative doom dreamer ‘1692’

I’ve been in therapy for several years now, sparked over a bad panic attack that sent me to the emergency room. But as time has gone on, and my sessions have evolved, a lot of what ends up being discussed is my Catholic upbringing and the irreparable damage it has done to me psychologically. And I’m lucky it’s only impacted me in that way and not physically.

I’ve also learned over the years that I’m not alone, and reminders of that always end up hitting me in ways I don’t expect. Such as when I took on “1692,” the debut offering from Frayle, the Cleveland-based doom band that claims vocalist Gwyn Strang and guitarist Sean Bilovecky as its creative core (they’re also joined by guitarist Elliot Rosen, bassist Eric Mzik, and drummer Pat Ginley). The title itself refers to the year the Salem Witch Trials began, and witchcraft very much is a part of the theme, as well as the impressive packaging that accompanies the music. But Strang concentrates a lot on what she experienced growing up Catholic and the frustrations involved with that. The band does point out the record isn’t darkness from front to back, and Strang also weaves in positivity and beauty, but this music definitely is a way she seeks to exorcise some lifelong pain that is carried into this great record.

“Introduction (Arise)” starts off with sounds swelling through static crunch as Strang, recalling witches who met violent, unjustified demise, calling out, “Arise the broken, arise sisters, arise brothers, watch them fall” as things bleed into the title track that kicks off with a power surge. Strang’s otherworldly voice is met with a burly chorus that adds an element of ugliness to the fray as she calls, “This fire, it consumes the cynic I’ve become, false prophets proudly try to sing a worthy outcome.” The music gets into your blood, chewing away and taunting before the track haunts and burns out. “Gods of No Faith” has guitars delaying before punches land hard before Strang’s voice mixes with sharp growls through the chorus. Strang revolves around the verses again, though she does meet up with brutality again before her whispers carry through. “Monsters” is a strange interlude with a nursery rhyme-style delivery, and then it’s onto “Darker Than Black” that plays tricks with you as it starts. Strang’s voice is the story here again, as she works in and out of chaos, and then the chorus brings a surge as she sings, “I need something darker than black to rip through this hideous slack,” as the song swelters at the end.

“Dead Inside” brings sludgy hell out of the gates as Strang’s breathy speak-sing pushes, and the chorus smooths over the wounds. The song is slow-moving and even mystical at times, but then the heaviness  returns and buries everything in muck. “Burn” churns with spooky tones and moves its way toward your psyche. The chorus is a killer, making your emotions drive as Strang calls, “We all burn blistered and weak, we all burn ignited and bleak.” Now that you’re fully infected, follow the rest of the track to its abrasive finish that brings your blood to the surface. “Godless” adds dark skies back to the atmosphere, turning both moody and haunting, as the guitars set fires. “Sometimes I feel so insecure,” Strang admits over the chorus as the track keeps pouring its guts on the floor. “If You Stay” starts off with fires being stoked and mind-altering tones, as the vocals serve to freeze your flesh. The hushed vocals send chills, giving off a calming nightmarish vibe that rests within you. “Stab” is the closer, bringing heavy sullenness and music that strikes your chest. The tempo moves along with calculated precision as Strang calls out, “I scream silently, graciousness dies in me,” as the track rests finally along with her final words.

Religion hasn’t been kind to a lot of people over the ages, especially women, and we’re in an era where people no longer are afraid to speak out, no longer hesitant to face their accusers. Frayle tackles a lot of this ground on “1692,” a record that could jab at some sore spots for those who suffered similarly, but it also acts as a means of defiance. Through hell and beauty, Frayle confront it all on these 10 tracks on an album that’s really hard to classify but incredibly easy to see as a sort of ally.

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

To buy the album (U.S.), go here: https://frayle.bandcamp.com/album/1692

Or here (Europe): https://laybarerecordings.com/releases

For more on the label, go here: http://aqualamb.org/

And here: https://laybarerecordings.com/

UK doom trio Godthrymm bleed misery, abject sorrow into dark, smothering debut ‘Reflections’

Photo by Frank Ralph

Doom often feels like a cold, dreary autumn day where your clothes get soaked and stick to you, and it feels like your bones are shattering within your skin. So, it’s a little alarming when you take on a band or record from that subgenre and get a totally different vibe from it, one that feels like things still are pretty damp but occur in a totally different time of year.

UK doom trio Godthrymm definitely don’t come off as dudes who bask in the spring winds and probably prefer the dankness of the dark final months of the year. That’s why it was so strange for me when on one of my many visits with “Reflections,” the band’s debut record, that it kept making me think of the stormy days of spring when it’s warm and foggy, rich foliage dripping with the aftermath of the downpour. Strangely, I’ve been listening a lot during the soaking days of what’s been a weirdly mild winter, so the vibe was kind of the same as what I was imagining. Their music is like a dark spirit creeping over the horizon, coming toward you with hellish intent that actually freezes your insides. On this eight-track, nearly 55-minute record, the band—vocalist/guitarist Hamish Glencross (formerly of My Dying Bride, Vallenfyre, Solstice), bassist Sasquatch Bob, drummer Shaun Taylor-Steels (formerly of Anathema and My Dying Bride)—delivers heavy, darkly melodic, and menacing doom that adds pressure to your heads and chest.

“Monsters Lurk Herein” opens the record on an elegant note, as the riffs arrive and darken, and the skies show signs of storms. Glencross’ vocals begin to soar as a female voices joins up with him, increasing the fog. The track kicks into higher gear, and the metallic playing has a Euro folk spine while Glencross wails, “Hollow sorrow, I feel no more,” as the track fades. “Among the Exalted” has guitars flooding as Glencross calls, “I crave your embrace,” as he faces the void. Leads surge over the chorus before the music goes cold, trickling before catching fire again. The track pounds again as the vocals punish, leading toward tornadic hell. “The Sea as My Grave” reeks of classic doom when it gets going as the frigid air thickens, and steady punches are thrown. The tempo swings back and forth, tricking your guts as Glencross howls, “Oceanic, rest in peace.” The song chugs anew from there, overwhelming before the track is ground to dust. “We Are the Dead” opens with cymbal crashes and burly guitars, joined up by forceful singing. “The hangman waits patiently,” Glencross warns as the temperature switches violently, with a searing solo bringing an end to the track.

“The Light of You” punches out of the bag with scraping verses and the earth quaking, while Glencross pushes his voice into a higher register. The music gets muddy as hell again as the tempo shifts hard, punishing with a fury before the track melts away. “The Grand Reclamation” awakens slowly before the guitars emerge, and vocals echo over the verses. The bass takes control and tunnels through, with the song taking on an Electric Wizard vibe. Echoes shouts as Glencross calls, “Hail the cleansing of this diseased world,” as the track clobbers and turns you dizzy. “Cursed Are the Many” is the longest track, clocking in at 9:18, and the opening is a slow burn that takes a while to get settled. Once it does, the verses weigh down heavily as Glencross howls, “Blessed are the few,” on the back end of the chorus. Female vocals swirl again in the background as the track is swept into eerie darkness. “Chasmic Sorrows” closes the door on the record by lurching through misery before unfolding into the dirt. The track is gut-wrenchingly melancholic in spots as sadness hangs in the air, hovering through this instrumental track that bleeds out into mystery.

No matter the season or the weather, Godthrymm will leave you cold and shivering in strange state of disrepair on “Reflections,” a despairingly dark debut. Their playing is ominous and unforgiving yet also alluringly creative in a way that is both physically and mentally devastating. This is a band with many years under their belts and hearts that have grown cold, and they’re pouring all of that into their music that makes doom metal even more overwhelming.

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

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

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

Swedish death power Ensnared unleash hell, gory violence on bloody ‘Inimicus Generis Humani’

When I put on a death metal record, I don’t necessarily demand utter brutality that makes my teeth grind. But it’s nice when I get it, as long as it’s well played and feels like the product of folks with true ferocity in their hearts who aren’t just here to be violent for violence sake. You can see through the flimsy shit, and that stuff never lasts.

When it comes to Swedish death crew Ensnared, it doesn’t take long to figure out their music is the product of diseased souls and a lifetime of disgust. Their music always has felt like death metal that’s here to exorcise demons, and that carries over onto their devastating second record “Inimicus Generis Humani” that’s eight tracks and 41 minutes of audio violence. That’s a perfectly dished serving, by the way. Not too much to overstuff you and just enough the satisfy that ache inside. This follow-up to their 2017 debut “Dysangelium” is punishing right off the bat. The bio materials hint that there’s an old-style feel to what they do, and that’s totally accurate. The band—H.K. (guitars, vocals), J.K. (drums)—is down to a duo from the quartet that was on their debut, but nonetheless, this effort is smothering and pain-inducing, a record that’ll leave you bruised.

Interestingly, “Interlude I” starts the record, an instrumental that has guitars buzzing and keys glimmering, picking up along the way until power slices through. Things slow down eventually, sounding like the last gasp of a dying machine. “Spiritual Necrosis” bleeds in before bursting apart and fully pummeling. H.K.’s hoarse growls do their job and stun you as rubbery riffs spark chaos before dizzying you. The track keeps rampaging through a kill solo, then the vocals return, with the final section squeezing your brain. “The Throne of Transformation” has swaggering guitars that push their hips into black metal before the pace lurches grossly, and speed is unleashed. The track threatens as it stampedes, sinewy playing flexes, and the track burns out. “Interlude II” reveals bubbly clean guitars as the melody comes in elusive and dark, and the eeriness increases your anxiety.

“Disciples of the Whip” rips open the second half with a crushing pace and a heavily charging assault that slips into total laceration. It feels like the earth itself is paying a dear price as H.K. howls, “We are the source of your torment,” as the song barrels into hell. “Interlude III” is strange and alluring with melodies that boast an urban vibe before fading out. “Katharsis Through Terror” comes at you stirring and grinding as the growls split bones, and the atmosphere is grim. “Don’t be tempted by the light,” H.K. warns while the bands pounds with reckless abandon. Closer “Black Hole Acolytes” is the longest of the set, running 9:34 and taking its time unleashing its dark journey. It is fully engulfed about 4 minutes in as the power starts to roll downhill. The playing is savage and mean, offering not an ounce of mercy before the guitars hypnotize, and the song melts out into horror.

Ensnared’s venomous death metal is as sharp and dangerous as ever on “Inimicus Generis Humani,” and taking this on will result in physical and mental anguish. As noted, this is tried-and-true death metal, but it’s never formulaic or predictable. It’s played in a manner in which the progenitors of the sound expected, and it’s a savage beast that tears your world apart.

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

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

Or here: https://invictusproductions666.bandcamp.com/album/inimicus-generis-humani

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

And here: https://invictusproductions.net/

Ironflame’s cagey power metal celebrates hard-fought battles won on fiery ‘Blood Red Victory’

There are times when I hear music that it makes me want to do ridiculous things that I wouldn’t actually do in real life. It’s part of being excited about the metal medium and coming up with acts (nothing lewd or anything) I’d perform when the music has taken me over that is a way for me to convey my excitement.

Taken that into consideration, I want to take up a sword and ride horseback into a battle every time I hear Ironflame’s “Blood Red Victory,” their third record and one of their most glorious. I mean, so many of these songs end with a battle being won and the winning team riding home, head held high, how could you not want to jump in and lend your hands? Their brand of classic heavy metal will make you think of bands such as Maiden, Priest, Atlantean Kodex, Visigoth, and that ilk, and their songs are just brimming with power and might that your adrenaline will shoot through you as these songs take over. The band—Andrew D’Cagna (of Icarus Witch, Coldfells, Nechochwen and more who handles vocals and music), Quinn Lukas and Jesse Scott (guitar solos), though they expand to a quintet when playing live—never fails to find the sweet spots through these songs, often sounding like they’re celebrating their successful battles on the field in a way to discourage any fools who might challenge them.

“Gates of Evermore” blasts the record open, marching toward victory with torches in hand, as the band takes up their arms. Forces battle as wizards cast their spells, while “invaders from unfriendly shores” try to make their way in. Great leads soar, and the track comes to a fiery end. “Honor Bound” has a strong open that basks in heavy metal glory, and the chorus is just great with D’Cagna declaring, “We are honor bound.” The leads bring additional heat as D’Cagna warns they are, “Heavy metal warriors until the bitter end.” “Seekers of the Blade” has a tasty NWOBHM wave that opens up higher-register singing and a chorus that just swells. Intricate guitars help with the epic storytelling before the chorus rushes back and ends the drive. The title track has a Maiden-style start, complete with group “woah-oh” calls and the declaration of, “This holy grail we will defend.” Smooth leads glisten, a great solo arrives, and everything is turned to ash.

“On Ashen Wings” has a great lead that brings you in, as D’Cagna’s vocals lead the way. As a dragon threatens human safety, D’Cagna declares, “We vanquish him one and for all,” before the soloing awakens and spills blood. As the song plays out, yet another successful, bloody battle is celebrated while D’Cagna wails, “We stand as one,” as the track bows out. “Graves of Thunder” chugs hard as epic storytelling emerges. “The earth is trembling, the rain begins to fall,” D’Cagna notes as the song builds to its epic chorus. “Grace and Valor” has a massive start as D’Cagna calls, “We will not admit defeat, we will not die in vain,” as the song rumbles toward a tremendous chorus. Actually, every chorus on this record is top notch. Anyhow, the song stomps hard, making its way toward destiny as D’Cagna insists, “The future’s in our hands.” “Night Queen” is a darker, more foreboding track that pulls back the chaos as D’Cagna warns, “Beware the clutches of the night queen.” The tempo hits full tilt as punches are thrown, and elegant soloing swells in your chest, and the track ends in an explosion.

Ironflame’s music so easily can climb inside of you and get your heart pumping blood at a dangerous level, which probably led to me wanting to do that sword shit. “Blood Red Victory” is a triumphant record that’ll actually make you feel rejuvenated and alive, which happens far less frequently in the world of heavy metal. This is a barnburner of an album that is battle tested and refuses to blink in the eye of adversity. That’s where it thrives.

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

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

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