PICK OF THE WEEK: Wolvennest put their energies and creativity into immersive, numbing ‘Temple’

It’s not healthy from a physical or mental standpoint to be overcome by stresses and anxieties, and not taking the time to recognize these things and face them can be destructive in the long run. Unfortunately, there are not easy solutions to apply across the board, so everyone has a stake in handling spiraling matters so we don’t go down the drain to hell.

A major part of my own attempts to remain as sane as I can be is to designate times to branch out beyond myself, get centered, and practice meditation, all of which have made a major difference in my life, even though I’m still suffering. I also heavily connected with “Temple,” the new record from Belgian psychedelic doom dreamers Wolvennest, their second effort overall. The music on this eight-track, 77-minute album must be visited in full, requiring a complete immersion in their occult-like creations that also can take you by the hand and help you see a more settling pathway through chaos. The band—vocalist/theremin player Shazzula, vocalist DéHà, guitarists Michel Kirby, Corvus Von Burtle, and Marc De Backer, bassist John Marx, drummer Bram Moerenhout—poured everything they had in this creation that came together as the pandemic was just beginning to get scary, and they left nothing on the floor. Every part of these players is in this music, and that personal and spiritual inclusion is a major part of what makes this album the experience it is.

“Mantra” is the 12:26-long opener and the longest track here, starting with a long, burning intro that finally opens up with wordless calls floating. “My heart is burning,” Shazzula calls as the track gains intensity and grows more hypnotic. “Enter the temple of love,” Shazzula invites as the guitars heat up, sounds corrode, and the humidity thickens, ending in a weighty haze. “Swear to Fire” has sounds swirling and guitars charging, delivering a doomy storm. The vocals mesmerize as a haunting psychosis thickens, feeling like you’re floating in a dream. Dark vocals chill as they travel through time, and then the leads heat up again. Guitars encircle as the trance thickens, spilling out into madness. “Alecto” starts with music chiming and your mind wandering as they set up a vibe and pay that off with spacious excitement. The guitars sprawl as the pace warms up, feeling like it’s taking direct flight into the heart of the sun. Things then ease, trickling slowly as this instrumental cut bows. “Incarnation” unfurls and heads into a disorienting fog as the singing numbs, and melodies wash over your mind. “It’s dark in here, but yet I see,” Shazzula cries, as the tempo stirs and jostles, the guitars agitate, and a flood of group calls sets your mind on a strange adventure.

“All that Black” is the shortest cut as 6:34, bringing steamy playing that wilts your flesh. “I like darkness,” Shazzula calls, “Darkness is beautiful,” as chant-like vocals settle over like a storm. Guitars boil as the psyche sizzling scorches the earth, finally burning into ash. “Succubus” features King Dude on vocals, and it’s a 11:27-long ballad that digs into your brain. It unfurls as slide guitars haunt, the playing quivers, and Dude wonders, “Will she ever let me say goodbye?” The track digs into your heart and eats it alive, the sounds slowly die, and the sun finally sets on hope. “Disappear” has a slow-boiling start as ghostly, almost vampiric vocals slither, and the music continues to pick up intensity. Howled words and bellowed singing unite, dark shadows unfurl and cover the earth, and icy blood begins to flow and take you along with it. “Souffle de Mort” ends the record slowly stirring as the drumming rumbles. Shazzula sings in French, sounding alluring and haunting, while the guitars generate heat. The playing is total entrancement, leaving your mind iced over as the vocals continue to dig in their claws. Speaking then jolts, the sounds burn in your belly, and the track ends owning sections of your mind.

I feel like the best way to indulge in “Temple” is to find a way to calm your nerves and your mind, darken the room, and let the sounds float over you and into your pores. Wolvennest, with uncertainty and fear ruling the world, pushed all of their creative boundaries into these 77 minutes, continually finding ways to capture and recharge your imagination. Finding ways to connect with the universe isn’t easy in the midst of so much chaos, but Wolvennest were able to overcome those hurdles, and their music can help guide you on your own journey.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://van-records.com/Preorder_1

For more on the label, go here: https://www.van-records.com/

Black metal beasts Nixil deliver beating on decaying world with blazing debut ‘All Knots Untied’

Photo by Shane K Gardner

We’ve admittedly gotten a lot of mileage over the mounting frustrations that have marred this earth recently, and even before the last year, it’s not like things were going smoothly for everyone. We’re at a place in time when we’re paying for our transgressions, seeing the results of people buying into a grift, and generally trying to navigate among people who don’t give a fuck.

There are so many ways to deal with all these flooding feelings, and perhaps the best way to alleviate the pressure building up inside our heads is to say fuck it all and try to carve a path that’s our own and free of the things bringing us down. That’s sort of the mission statement that Baltimore-based black metal crushers Nixil deliver on their great full-length debut “All Knots United,” a six track affair that launches itself right for your chest from moment one. There is frustration, anger, and defiance at every corner as the band unleashes their chaos upon the world on a record that’ll feel right for your psyche if you, too, are at the end of a burning rope. Another nice check in the win column is the band steadfastly stands against fascism, something that’s insane we even have to point out these days, but this is the place in which we live, and it’s nice to know where they stand.  

“Black Earth Within” opens slowly, establishing a mood before the riffs cut you down, and vile growls inject the poison. The playing is both punishing and melodic as it savages, even when the pace pulls back before melodies snake their way through the chaos. The fury increases from there, stirring and crushing the earth with deadly stomps. “Deaths of Our Own Design” blasts open as death snarls deliver rage, and the pace gets humid and sticky. The playing fires up as the drums are mashed, cleaner calls warble, and the moodiness thickens and churns. The melody wells up again, the leads explode, and vicious calls deliver the final blows. “Make Me the Voice” has bells chiming, growls collecting, and a hypnotic edge icing your skin over. The vocals get creakier and feel like they’re trying to open your flesh while the playing utterly storms, with the pressure increasing along with it. “Poison my heart, poison my mind, poison my flesh, poison my bones,” is wailed as the track burns to its finish.

“All Knots Untied” has riffs lathering and shrieks scraping wounds, while the melodies float into a thickened haze. Atmospheric guitars take over and turn the air frigid while the vocals warble, the playing trudges, and everything ends with vicious shrieks. “May This Flame Flicker Out” spills open as every element bashes away, and the guitar work floods the surface. The pace storms viciously as the drums crush, and the walls feel like they’re going to collapse. The band thrashes with force, crazed shrieks bruise your eyes, and everything charges into a trickling stream. “Unimpeded By the Weight” is the closer, and it cuts right to the bone with the drumming increasing the pain. Tremolo hell and gazey flooding add a sense of adventure while hell spreads its wings, with the vocals further darkening. The vocals reopen barely congealing wounds, the playing haunts, and the track finally fades into dirt.

Nixil’s brand of black metal isn’t reinventing the wheel by any means, and really, it doesn’t have to do that. Instead, the band delivers melodic, hard-working, punishing sounds on their debut “All Knots United.” They ideally enter a world in chaos unlike any we’ve witnessed in our lifetimes, as their music can act as a violent tearing off a rotting bandage to makes us more weathered to survive the hell in which we’re hopelessly drowning.     

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

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

Terminal Bliss get behind tanker truck of fuel to dump on raging fire with crazed ‘Brute Err/ata’

Photo by Chris Boarts Larson

It’s hard to believe there aren’t tons of people that wake up every morning and just scream and scream into the sky at the whirlwind of shit that surrounds people who aren’t dripping with money. There’s such little concern from so many in power over environmental health and other people’s struggles as long as their bank account swells each year. We all like money. Is it worth hurting others to get even more?!

“Brute Err/ata” is the debut EP from Terminal Bliss, a band that was whipped together in a hurry containing members of noted groups such as Pg. 99, Pygmy Lush, Darkest Hour, City of Caterpillar and more, and it sounds like the very act described in the opening, screaming into the void for some kind of answer. The band—vocalist Chris Taylor, guitarist Mike Taylor, bassist Adam Juresko, drummer Ryan Parrish—also touches on the aforementioned subject matter as they see the suffering and strife marring our well-being, and this record seems like it sets out to attack and destroy those vile issues. These 10 tracks come at you with an intensity and vengeance, lasting almost 12 minutes combined and just destroying from front to back.      

“Clean Bill of Wealth” kicks in with an electro burst, ravaging shrieks, and total disorientation, slamming into “Anthropodmorbid” that lands a million punches and just leaves you gutted after a mere 27 seconds. “Dystopian Buffet” has synth zaps and noises piling up as the drums pound, and a storming punk edge adds thrashy menace to the cut. “The Ominous Hum” launches with hardcore-style intensity and a pace that leaves the room spinning dangerously, bringing sounds that are equally zany and putrid. “Small One Time Fee” jabs with noisy howls echoing and the pace pummeling, ripping through with unhinged energy. Warbled speaking and stretched guitars mangle before punching out with attitude. “8 Billion People Reported Missing” has cartoonishly fast guitar work, scathing shrieks, and damaging aggression, blasting into “Tumoresque” where the bass and drums combine to clobber. The playing drives daggers as things get oddly catchy before they knock you on your ass. “Discarded Wallet” has guitars ripping and speed mixing with rage, mashing suddenly to an end. “March of the Grieving Droid” piles on noise deteriorating and the bass driving, as howls and a punchy pace open lips. Things just come unglued, slaughtering and drenching everything in feedback. Closer “Hidden Handed Artificial Harassment Experimental Run Amok” rushes in with burly bass and a pace that explodes, while vile shrieks continue to increase the violence. Noise interference injects ferocity while the drumming topples, and everything ends in stuttering noise.

Terminal Bliss is the sound of four volatile forces coming together and creating something that feels like it is out of control and impossible to slow down. “Brute Err/ata” is just their first burst, and if this EP is any indication, their first full-length might be enough to continuing pouring gas on the fires in your chest and get rightfully fucking mad at forces trying to ravage us all. This is pure viciousness, and it feels just right considering the state of the world that isn’t changing any time soon.   

For more on the band, go here: https://www.instagram.com/terminalblissband/

To buy the album, go here: http://relapse.com/terminal-bliss/

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

Damaged, altered Culted battle through temptation, pain, death on psychologically blunt ‘Nous’

Photo by J Richard

A lot of people are banking on hope right now that the condition in which the world has been thrust will come to an end, and our lives can go back to normal. There’s the issue: We can’t know that normal again. There has been too much damage, too much loss, too much death to ever live the way we once did, so we’d all be better off abandoning that thought and understanding what’s really at stake here.

The member of internationally spread-out doom beasts Culted (three are in Canada, one is in Norway) also were victims to the same types of issues that have haunted the world, and that informs their nightmarish third record “Nous,” their first full-length since 2014’s “Oblique to All Paths.” The band’s members suffered from wounds both physical and psychological as these songs were forming in their minds, and the result is an album like none of their other creations, something so dark and foreboding that even the first listen is a frightening one. Each subsequent visit gets more jarring as each layer opens itself up to see clearer. The band—vocalist Daniel Jansson, guitarist/bassist/keyboard player/percussionists Matthew Friesen and Michael Klassen, drummer/percussionist Kevin Stevenson—also examine the role of temptation, with the cover depicting Saint Anthony who, according to Biblical text, faced that very thing when he fled to the deserts of Egypt for fasting and prayer. Everything here is dark, unhinged, and corrosive, an ugly, yet warped record that reveals a completely different side of this destructive band.

“Lowest Class” starts the record with hypnotic sludge that fills your veins and wild shrieks that rattle your mental cages. The pace is piledriving, heavy and steady, as flesh is peeled back and salt poured in the yawning wound. The track is impossibly crushing, ending in flattened hell. “Lifers” enters in a shadow of noise as the guitars gut, and the playing gets spacious and filthy. The music stabs as it continues to get heavier, bludgeoning and filling your lungs with soot, bursting away in pained cries. “One Last Smoke” writhes in feedback as the playing clouds your head, and the vocals swim in the ether, feeling otherworldly. Massive riffs land blows again as the sound seemingly melts, the roars punish, and weird keys pulsate. “Ankle Deep” is where the record starts a slow descent to the bottom of the sea, feeling moody and crushing, as the growls are buried beneath the earth. The track gets more ferocious as the vocals scorch, and the low end bruises guts, coming to a smothering, corrosive end. “Black Bird” feels like something out of a dream, with acoustics teasing and the guitars oozing. Speaking mars as the sounds get more penetrative, washing in echo and mechanical hell before bleeding out in damage.

“Opiate the Hounds” chars right away as more acoustics set up and add rustic fury, as voices swirl in the air, seemingly around your head. The strange vibes increase and appear to float toward the cosmos while an eerie bloodletting takes the track into the night. “Maze” gets off to a deliberately slow start as feedback is caked in mud, and swaggering doom begins to take hold. The darkness increases and heads for your nervous system as the leads glisten, the riffs slice and dice, and pulverizing tones do more damage as the track crushes through the earth. “Crown of Lies” dumps abrasive howls and crumbling sounds, with the track taking on the role of the beast. Disarming psyche waves chill your flesh as the track is torn apart all over, and crude oil begin to flow, pulling you under. “The Grid” trickles in as sounds sting, and the tempo hulks right into the center of the picture. Atmosphere thickens while punches are landed, the growls eat through your ribcage, and the leads just scorch. The vocals bounce violently off the walls, shrapnel is spat, and the vibe feels like it has come from the spirit world, haunting your dreams. The record closes with an absolutely deadly cover of Godflesh’s “Crush My Soul” that they somehow manage to make more dangerous and abrasive.

The seven years since Culted’s last full-length have allowed this machine to shape and shift, still resembling their former selves but also having a much different edge that freshens up their approach. “Nous” is a record that feels like what it does when you wake up after a night of half sleep, as your brain aches, and it feels like you’re not operating in reality. This is a much different Culted, one with a more violent and psychologically damaging mind frame that can leave you emotionally devastated.

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

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: https://www.season-of-mist.com/

PICK OF THE WEEK: Vindsval goes back toward the wintry black metal forests on Forhist debut

It’s cold as shit here right now with more snow on the ground than we’ve had in years, especially since the past many winters we’ve had very little actual frigid weather. Anyone who knows anything about black metal knows the best time to go back and revisit that stuff is when it’s frigid and you’re keeping yourself sane in heavily shadowed rooms, with a dark, strong beverage at your side.

Blut Aus Nord mastermind Vindsval has spent the better part of the last decade taking his main project into the cosmos and other strange territories while still maintaining his roots deep in the center. Apparently, he’s been feeling nostalgic for the old days, when wintry forests and chaos were the crucial main ingredients of this sound, and he revisits that on his very first Forhist record, a self-titled affair that’s some of the heaviest stuff he’s done in years. Yet, there still are stretches of imagination and wonder in what he does on these bone-freezing eight tracks, but for the most part, it’s power, riffs, riveting chaos, and infectious melodies, keeping your insides volcanically hot while your body tries to adjust to the sub-freezing temperatures.   

“I” chirps and bursts, pounding away as Vindsval’s wild wails go for your throat, sounding as vicious as he ever has. The melody surges as the atmosphere thickens, kicking into a synth gaze and then a blazing pace that keeps storming to the end. “II” brings destruction raining down from the sky as the growls wrench and jolt, warping as the sweltering pace moves into a heavy fog coverage. The track slips into mid-tempo as the glaze glistens, voices float, and thunderclaps bring you back to reality as rain soaks the ground. “III” continues the storm saturating the ground before the playing unloads and aims to blacken your eyes. Washed-out cries wrench behind the madness as the pace crushes, the vocals rip savagely, and everything ends in a pile of rubble. “IV” begins with a strange vibe before riffs attack, the synth swims, and clean vocals are muffled like a transmission from beyond. The guitars rip anew before a quick acoustic halt lets you breathe, and then the power explodes again, with the melodies warping your mind, leaving the room spinning.

“V” has the ocean roaring before the track wells up and crushes, as the vocals spray fury. The drums clobber without mercy, with the track feeling like it’s dumping thousands of hammers on your head as the shrieks disorient, charging all the way to the end. “VI” explodes right away as a rushing black metal pace gets things to a delirious pace as strong melodies work in and strengthen the formula. Muted vocals and stunning playing destroy as the pace feels like it’s eating away at your guts, swallowing you whole as everything ends in hypnosis. “VII” has riffs dicing your muscles and the playing trudging heavily as the keys blanket. The playing numbs your senses as it moves toward your brain, continually adding pressure and working at your psyche. The melodies then burst into a repetitive whirlpool that entrances and eventually disappears under the water. “VIII” ends the album, starting with a demonstrative burst  and riffs cutting through bone. The drums maul as a strange pocket increases its presence with keys chilling your flesh, guitars jolting, and the intensity hitting a fever pitch before it’s swallowed back into the ocean and dragged into darkness.

Forhist is the heaviest and most violent Vindsval has sounded in quite some time as this self-titled project debut goes for the jugular and never quits with its thirst for blood. The artist here has nothing to prove at all, as his Blut Aus Nord catalog already rewrote a lot of the rules for black metal, yet he sounds channeled like he has something for which to work. This is intense, violent, and massive, a record that might leave you reeling from its outright savagery and frozen to your core.

For more on the band, go here: https://blutausnord.bandcamp.com/album/forhist

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

Or here: https://www.debemur-morti.com/en/518-forhist-shop

For more on the label, go here: https://www.debemur-morti.com/en/

Australian dreamers Spire look to time and its infinite power on spellbinding ‘Temple of Khronos’

Passing of time can be foreboding and hold with it many levels of anxiety as we change, get older, and watch society shift around us for better or worse. Humans also don’t seem to change much as we consume everything that’s around us and, as a result, become an enemy to this planet that is bound to be catastrophic for future generations, if not the current one.

Thinking ahead to what the future may hold and what problems those people might face is, in a sense, what Australian black metal chillers Spire have woven into their new record “Temple of Khronos,” their second effort and first since 2016. On it, they envision a future generation that is facing some of the same mortality issues we are now, looking back through time and finding no real answers to their plight. That fantastical but realistic situation is woven in black metal that pushes your mind to its furthest reaches, as the band expands what the sub-genre is capable of accomplishing, which is always refreshing for anyone operating in this sub-genre. Every drop of this record finds the band—M.R. and G.A.—twisting your brain and ability to handle different realities, ensuring your experience will be nothing like what you get from most black metal. This duo isn’t satisfied with conventional thinking.   

“Chronometer” starts with synth beams cutting through as the intensity picks up, and the intro cut bleeds into “Hymn I – Tyrant” that openly trudges and picks up mud and blood. The growls become unhinged as strong melodies and cleaner yells rivet, shrieks meet with chanted lines, with hypnotic patterns sneaking in. Clean lines then bore into your brain as the track burns out. “Hymn II – Tormentor” runs a healthy 10:13 as dissonant guitars melt, and shrieks rip into your ribs. Howls strike as the drums pound away, as weird transmissions enter the fray, feeling both machine like and alien as the drama increases. The vocals stab as the pace rushes ahead, strange dreams sink in their fingers, and the final moments drill through bones before ending suddenly.

“Hymn III – Harbinger” immediately combusts as the shrieks pound away, and the pace keeps stirring as it opens the lid to hell. Strangeness hangs and haunts as the humidity increases, making your head spin, and then the madness returns. The playing is unhinged as it keeps funneling its way into the ground. “Interlude – Antithesis” has guitars lighting up and hovering like a storm about to be pierced, weird chants haunt, and cosmic ghouls lurk, making the way into “Hymn IV – Puissant,” an 8:07-long pounder. Growls barrel in out of weird vibes, and howls simmer in pools of blood as a thick ambiance extends its wings. Guitars agitate as the vocals stretch out as the playing rips through rock, splattering hell and shrapnel as the noise floats, mesmerizing and slipping into time. “Hymn V – Khronos” ends the album by unfurling flesh-crawling vocals and a stinging tempo, seemingly subsiding before hypnosis increases, and your mind feels like it’s at its most vulnerable. Drums punch in, group chants make your thoughts float, and everything fades into the stars.

Despite being away for half decade, Spire have a stranglehold on atmospheric black metal that uses stardust and strange power to make their work even darker. “Temple of Khronos” is a fascinating, thunderous record that feels a little different every time you hear it, new wrinkles expose themselves, and each layer becomes more apparent. This is black metal with imagination and ingenuity, proving it’s still possible to make this style of music that challenges what you know about the art form.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://sentientruin.com/releases/spire-temple-of-khronos

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

Mysterious Umbral Twilight rip open their chests for the night on ‘Bleeding Alchemic Talisman’

Standing outside at night in the moonlight and gazing at the sky is enough to make your neighbors start thinking strange things about you which, come to think of it, might apply to me since I actually do this sometimes. But I don’t walk back inside my house with my head filled with evil intent and the desire to impart that destruction upon unsuspecting victims.

But the two forces that make up black metal crushers Umbral Twilight do not live like you and I, as the night and everything it holds in its clutches helped inspire their new demo “Bleeding Alchemic Talisman (B.A.T.).” The four-track offering, their first, was recorded in isolation last year, with most of the work taking place at night, when their spirits were at their highest and most vicious. The band—vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Reaper of War and drummer Bloodthirsty Heretic—conjures dark ancient rites, death worship, satanic magick, and moon worship into their noise-infested sound, with their demo comprised of two interlude cuts and two full tracks, all sounding like they would be absolutely terrifying to hear if you were already worried what was lurking behind corners late at night.

“Hypnotic Lunar Trance” is a quick synthgaze intro cut that has a haze settling over everything and an unsettling feeling rumbling in your chest, heading into the title track that erupts with noisy riffs. Strong melodies intertwine with vicious vocals that go for the throat as well as drums stomping guts into the ground. The growls wrench in echo as the band thrashes away, melodies loop with churning guitars, and the sooty assault ends in a bloody mess. “Glorious Lunacy” is a strange interlude cut with static, synth fog, and weird things trickling underground, with sounds echoing off the castle walls. “Bloodmoon Offerings” ends the collection with the drums exploding, guitars openly burning, with the shrieks peeling the paint off the walls. Things pick up and hammer viciously with the drums rattling cages, vicious storming entering a static gust, and the guitars raining down before everything ends in eerie weirdness.

It’s short, it’s to the point, and it’s aiming to carve you up as Umbral Twilight spill the blood on “Bleeding Alchemic Talisman,” a destructive demo that’s only a hint at what terror they truly can create. Evil, hell, and night worship are all flooding to the surface here as this feral form of black metal seeks to return it to the moonlight, basking in decaying graveyards. This is raw, unforgiving violence that will leave you battered but a little closer to your union with darkness.

To buy the album, go here: https://stygianblackhand.bandcamp.com/album/bleeding-alchemic-talisman

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

Pittsburgh destroyers Narakah unleash deathly grind, mauling violence on snarly ‘Blast Haven’

Pittsburgh can be a shitty place. It’s great, too, but there are things about this place that bother the shit out of me. Like how we’re one of the least habitable cities to live if you’re not a white person. Or the not-so-subtle racism that feels like it can be as plentiful as our river water. Or the fact that people think Primanti Bros. is acceptable cuisine.

But back to the good stuff, we have a really great heavy music scene that goes way beyond Code Orange, and one of the bands keeping that’s keeping it exciting is Narakah, a grindcore monster that comprises members of bands such as Demiltia, the former Slaves BC (now known as Úzkost), Meth Quarry, Prostitution and plenty of others, and they’ve just dealt their insane new EP “Blast Haven” that’ll knock the living shit out of you. At nine tracks and 12:27, this is a fucking mind melt that the band—vocalist Adam Bailey, guitarist Chris Smith, bassist Evan Kunkle, drummer Jason Spence—pours all their vitriol and anger into, and maybe they’re also annoyed by the same Pittsburgh bullshit as I am. I’m projecting. Let’s just get into this thing and get fucking fried.

“Látom” has strange noises hovering and synth pulsing before the grind rips your fucking arms off, hammers your skull, and mars you with violent fury, moving into “Samurai Dreams” that feels weird at first before the fires explode. Gnarly vocals and melodic surges unite and punish, and then it’s on to “Beretta” that’s a full-on assault with shrieks wrenching, the playing slashing away, and the animalistic assault ending in sticky globs of blood. “Cynocephalus (Destro’s End)” is a machine-like instrumental that swims in ghostly sounds and strange mysteries, leaning into “Black Guard” that lets riffs crunch and speed rule. Heavy thrashing and vocals that aim to slice your head from your neck leave you in a heaping pile, gasping for air as the title track rips open and unleashes beastly power. The growls punish as the playing feels meaty and crazed, ripping into the belly of “Implosive Sonata” that lets loose wild shrieks and bloody outbursts that leave you bruised all over. The pace slows just a bit as the thick basslines flex, marching through horrors and death snarls. “Lazar Ritual Sodomy” is 40 seconds of penetrating sounds, explosive playing, and zapping melodies, all making their way toward closer “Dakimakura” that sounds like a machine come to life, wreaking havoc among society. The drums splatter as the bass unloads, bringing the fury to a fevered pitch until the sour final warning (from the cult classic “Videodrome”), “See you in Pittsburgh,” slays you.

I’m even more furious about this goddamn pandemic because I haven’t been able to see Narakah live, and I can only imagine the assault that would result from them playing cuts from “Blast Haven,” another delirious release from this grind attack unit. It’s 12 and a half minutes of violence that never lets you get your head above water long enough for a deep breath, as you keep battling for your survival. Pittsburgh has never seemed so dangerous, and I blame that solely on Narakah.

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

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Gravesend spill fuel on fire, deliver black grind on ‘Methods of Human Disposal’

We don’t live in very habitable times. I’ll give you a second to write that down for your records. We’ve gone over all the usual suspects here from pestilence to fascist government policy to people just being complete assholes to one another for no good reason, and it’s almost like we need to find someone to go in and remove the roots with callousness and malice.

Not sure if NYC’s Gravesend are up to the physical task, because that’s a lot of people to hunt down, but the music on their debut record “Methods of Human Disposal” might be as good a first step as we can get. With 15 tracks running a little more than 27 minutes, this is a collection that refuses to let you catch your breath and steady yourself, because they provide no time for that. Instead, the band—vocalist/guitarist/synth player A, bassist/synth player/backing vocalist S, drummer G—pepper you with bursts that mash black metal, thrash fire, and grindcore fits of rage into the same package, making this a record that will bruise you mentally, spiritually, and physically as you writhe on the floor bleeding.   

“Fear City” opens with synth fog, strange vibes, and shouts bristling, creating panic as we move toward “STH-10” that delivers decimating drums and doom from the start. The bass ricochets as punches flatten everything, and that mashes into the title track where creaky growls and relentless playing set the tone early. The drums light up and furious howls pound into your chest before everything is set ablaze, and sounds retreat into the ether. “Ashen Piles of the Incinerated” serves up thrashy death that’s tasty and sharp, unloading viciously as growls swirl in the air. The pace remains punchy and grating, pulling headfirst into “End of the Line” where the volcanic riffs shed early blood. The heat spreads as the pressure mounts noticeably, ending everything in a death maul. “Subterranean Solitude” is lightning fast as the guitars shred muscle, guts are splattered liberally, and the end bashes out and toward “Unclaimed Remains” that re-ignites the aggression into rock-defacing violence. The bass plods as the drums deliver chaos, while the growls creak beneath the filth. The playing finds a way to increase the danger even further, ending in a smoking pile of ash.

“Verrazano Floater” has drums echoing, the playing going for the throat, and an assault that feels like it tears all the way through your chest, paving the way for “Eye for an Eye” that acts as a strange, noise-glazed interlude track that makes it feel like you’re locking in fever dream. “Trinity Burning” brings stomping guitars and a churning pace that meet up with drumming that comes unglued. The feeling is maniacal and warped, making your brain feel like it’s dripping from your ears onto the ground below. “Needle Park” is blown up right away by the drumming as the playing brings new levels of heaviness and volatility, as growls tear flesh from bone. “Absolute Filth” is aptly named as it arrives with unforgiving sentiment, growls that sound like they’ve been soaking in a sewer, and an explosion of chaos that sends shrapnel flying. It’s complete devastation, leaving ash in its wake as it moves toward “The Grave’s End” that’s fast, ugly, and a blinding feral display that feels like utter slaughter. “Scum Breeds Scum” quickly takes off heads as it launches, moving at a merciless pace and feeling properly out of control, setting the stage for finale “Concrete Feet” that flattens upon arrival. The drums explode as savage vocals eat away at your psyche, landing blow after blow even as you cower for mercy on the ground from an assailant that just won’t stop.

Gravesend’s debut record “Methods of Human Disposal” certainly pulls no punches as they burn seamlessly from song to song, making these 27 minutes a physical and mental challenge that you might not be ready to absorb. Their mix of black metal, thrash, and grind works like a perfect beast, offering a multi-faceted attack that’s nearly impossible to manage. There should be no doubt this world remains drowning in misery and filth, and Gravesend spend their time smearing your face in reality until it damn near suffocates you.

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

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

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

Today’s review interrupted by typical metal bullshit

Today wasn’t supposed to be like this. We had a review ready to go, but a troublesome matter has passed me by the last few years, and I’ll admit that today. I do fairly thorough research when I’m writing about a band I’m not knowledgeable about to avoid having any misogynistic, fascist bullshit on this page. But it’s not a perfect process, and things fall through the cracks.

Oh great. Absurd merch on the Signal Rex shop site

Anyway, I won’t name the band, because they aren’t the culprits, but their label Signal Rex is. I went to get a shop link to their site to add to the review when I saw a shirt by Werewolf Bloodorder, which smacked me in the face as being fash as fuck. Further research, I found its sole member was in a band called Resistencia 88, a group that was not exactly shy about their nazi-supporting roots, especially sharing a split with the band Gestapo SS on a recording called “Acireman Southern Aryan Terrorists.” It includes a Skrewdriver cover!  How adorable. Actually, all the song titles suck, they both suck, and they can eternally fuck off. As can Signal Rex and any band that chooses to sign with a label that happily works with “artists” such as these. Their artistic statement, as per their Bandcamp states they are “a record label that stands for art without advocating or condemning any form of artistic expression, always having in mind the right to freedom of speech as its main motto.” Basically, welcome, shitheads. We just want to sell your shit.

Satanic Warmaster bullshit

This is on top of their site being an easy place to find sketchy bands, selling merch in their shop from Satanic Warmaster, Absurd (they list a tribute album!), Grand Belial’s Key, Ravenzang (follow that fucking trail), and Lycanthropic Winter Moon, who cite NSBM bands such as Graveland and Fullmoon as influences. It’s the same reason we don’t do anything on Hells Headbangers artists, with the second reason being a lot of them aren’t that good. Same goes for Iron Bonehead, who unfortunately do have some good artists, but I can’t support their politics.

This may seem like a small deal, but it really isn’t. There are so many good bands out there that deserve the coverage who don’t spread nazi bullshit or fascist and/or sexist ideas. The ones that do, we will happily ignore them outright when it comes to what we write about. I feel stupid I didn’t realize earlier on about Signal Rex, but they won’t get any more time on this site. If that’s going to be a problem for you, luckily you’re not required to be here. Despite what some people think and are vocally ignorant about on social media, metal does have problems when it comes to fascism, sexism, race, and flat-out nazi sympathy. If it didn’t, I would not have to do a knowledge check every goddamn time a new band comes my way that I have to vet first. It’s an issue, and it’ll continue to be one until we stop fucking around and do something to root it out. If you run into a listener whining about it and claiming metal is supposed to be hateful, that’s how you ID an enabler, if not an outright supporter of such bullshit. I’ve had to get rid of my share of records due to this, and funny enough, I have plenty of music left in my collection that doesn’t make me feel morally reprehensible for owning.

Anyway, that’s it. No review. I’d love to never have to write about something like this again, but I know reality is cruel, and there are enough people who will let this shit pass that it’ll live on until we stomp it out. If you see anything else on this site from the past by a questionable band, please let us know so we can get the fuck rid of it. Oh, and it goes without saying that if you’re a band that leans NSBM, sexist, racist, fascist, don’t bother sending us your album. We’re deleting it.