PICK OF THE WEEK: Chat Pile place fury on capitalism, lies, Grimace on brain-jerking ‘God’s Country’

We live in a lie of a country here in the United States, and hopefully all the blind patriots we haven’t already run off will leave permanently after reading that. We have a group of people who claim these comical “pro-life” statuses and want to force births to happen but don’t give a fuck about the children once they’re here, the poor, the sick, the mentally ill, innocent people in other countries we kill, the actual planet we live on, gun violence. Fun people.

While not necessarily focused on what I listed above, Oklahoma City-based noise maulers Chat Pile are living right in the middle of where so many of those people live, and their frustration boils over onto their excellent and brain-ravaging debut full-length “God’s Country.” Living amidst a lot of hell in the Midwest, the band—vocalist Raygun Busch, guitarist Luther Manhole, bassist Stin, drummer Captain Ron (not the Kurt Russell version)—laments global capitalism and its effects on people who have no means to compete; environmental issues with our increasingly boiling planet; and the pandemic over nine tracks that are impossible to ignore. There are elements of grunge, down-tuned metal that slays, and punk chaos, and Busch’s relentless and stream-of-consciousness delivery leaves an impact that will stick with you and continually loop through your brain.

“Slaughterhouse” opens the gates on this trip with drums melting and the guitars bleeding as Busch immediately takes center stage and refuses to release your attention. The repeated howls of “hammers and grease” repeatedly lurch as later Busch wails, “And the sad eyes, goddamnit, and the screaming, there’s more screaming than you’d think,” as the track comes to a mangling finish. “Why” is one of the most aggravated, sobering statements on homelessness that might exist in all heavy music, with Busch frustratingly wondering, “Why do people have to live outside?” before reminding we have the means as a nation to stop this. Yet we don’t. The playing chugs and provides perfect background for this justified rant, Busch jabbing, “Have you ever had ringworm? Scabies?” as the final hammers crush bone. “Pamela” pulls back a bit sonically though it’s still jarring. Shimmering guitars and speak-singing combine, bringing the first of many Nirvana vibes, which is a major positive. Murder and extreme unease race through your stomach as the story unfolds, stabbing that point home as Busch numbly calls, “Stare at the lake, biding my time, waiting to die.” “Wicked Puppet Dance” ruptures blood vessels as feedback collects and the bass lurches, ripping apart the remaining threads of sanity. Barked vocals and acidic playing infect and bring panic that slips away when the song ends but stays in your mind.

“Anywhere” is cloudy, yet melodic as it enters the room, Busch jarring with, “Think there was brain on my shoes,” before repeatedly lashing, “Stop it!” The sticky chorus that also reminds of Nirvana has Busch warbling, “It’s the sound of a fucking gun, it’s the sound of your world collapsing,” a line that could become an obsession to call back. Shrieks drive as the guitars snake and snarl, jolting and electrifying your mind. “Tropical Beaches, Inc.” is flattening and heavy, the low-end thrashing feeling like the Deftones at their heaviest, with Busch spitting out, “Deeper cuts, bloody sheets, making money, man on TV, haunt you, haunt me.” This is brutal and so satisfyingly heavy, making me think of hot summers at Ozzfest in the mid-aughts. “The Mask” is more psychological damage, more daggers to the brain, recounting a crime spree that feels like half panic attack, with the chorus a simple demand of, “Line up the animals!” It eats into you, the playing bludgeons, and the final moments tingle your nerve endings as you slowly lose consciousness. “I Don’t Care If I Burn” is an uncomfortable rant, something that would make you worry the narrator was about to do something dangerous. Amid noise that feels like a fever dream, Busch works through the meltdown, seething in his calm, dreaming about killing this person before warning, “You may not remember me, but bet your last fucking dollar I remember you.” It leaves you shivering and shaking in fear as closer “grimace_smoking_weed.jpeg” opens and manages to increase the psychological damage. Over 9:06, the band unleashes a thick, damaging campaign as Busch stammers about drug use, self-harm, and that goddamn mascot from the world’s largest fast-food chain. It’s also kind of funny as he increasingly grows more irritated with Grimace, howling, “Purple man, stop coming into my room, stop looking at things that aren’t meant for you.” The playing devolves emotionally as does Busch who cries, “I’m trying to kill myself,” before ending with, “I know we’re not that high, but if I do it right, I can break my neck, I don’t wanna be alive, I don’t wanna be alive, Grimace!” It puts a startling, terrifying nail in the slowly decomposing coffin.

“God’s Country” is a record that’s been tough for me as a writer, who is trying to keep up with multiple records per week, because it has me completely arrested and has had so much of my attention that I don’t know how to turn away. Chat Pile isn’t inventing something new but they’re doing it in such a way that you cannot bury it, you won’t be able to ignore it, and the stories will start living in your brain. This is unhinged, dangerously, psychologically warped, and so fucking infectious and great that I can’t imagine this album leaving my personal rotation anytime soon. Fuck.  

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

To buy the album, go here: https://nowflensing.com/collections/chat-pile

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

Imperial Triumphant’s continual warping of black metal’s order peaks on weird ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’

Photo by Alex Krauss

The cities feel like they’re crumbling beneath us. I guess it’s kind of always felt that way, but it seems like the deterioration has accelerated and we have little time left to recover. Maybe that’s dramatic, but I don’t necessarily think it is. The concrete surrounds us as does corruption, lies, abuse, and the lack of sympathy for people who some see as different. We’re in a sea of poison, drowning.

Imperial Triumphant have been ahead of the curve in more ways than their musical prowess. The NYC black metal trio, consisting of vocalist/guitarist Zachary Ilya Ezrin, bassist/keyboard player/theremin wizard/vocalist Steve Blanco, and drummer Kenny Grohowski, who is a different Kenny G than the ones metal dorks are upset about, have been revealing this decay and dissolution ever since they got started, but that focus became razor sharp on their past few records. Their latest is “Spirit of Ecstasy,” one of the most ambitious and warped albums of their entire run, and that’s saying something considering these avant-garde masked beasts have been doing wild shit for quite some time. But this one drives into your psyche a little differently. They’re joined by a slew of guests including the aforementioned Kenny G, who brings substantial darkness to his contribution; guitarist Max Gorelick who has collaborated with the band before; Voivod vocalist Snake; the enchanting Andromeda Anarchia of Folterkammer who handles some of the haunting choral sections; guitarist Alex Skolnick of Testament; guitarist Trey Spruance of Faith No More and Mr. Bungle; Saria Woods on choirs; Yoshiko Ohara of Bloody Panda on vocals; and a slew of other players who add horns, bass, vocals, you name it to this goddamn leviathan.

“Chump Change” opens with the drumming scalding and the guitars immediately making you dizzy, the jazzy bass playing rescuing you from passing out. Then death starts to trudge and feel dangerous, the muddy playing spirals, and crazed runs and whipping sounds shake your guts, thick humidity following. The soloing scorches, the howls melt, and the playing recoils and fades. “Metrovertigo” comes in with fuzzy guitars and strange vocals squeezing you, the torment spreading and clouding your brain. The band piles on as the assault thickens, and then you enter into a weird dream state, twisting your senses, pushing you down a jagged path that slowly slips away. “Tower of Glory, City of Shame” begins with a cinematic sweep, a jazzy run turning into sludgy fury and rubbery, alien playing that veers toward zany. Chorals fill the air and your mind, loopy melodies swell, and crazed screams from O’Hara dig into your chest and increase your adrenaline. Darkness melts as trouble boils under the surface, old clips zap, and the tension ricochets and leaves ample bruising. “Merkurius Gilded” has strings stinging and we move through sepia-slathered dreams, the playing spilling and moving through mystery. Kenny G’s sax playing adds a classy and unsettling aura as the guitars begin to storm, and the fears increase. The choral section chills your flesh as the playing openly mauls, speeding up before fading away.

“Death on a Highway” pelts with drums and psychedelic keys that add a coolness element, the growls beginning to carve into your chest. Strange tones swim as cosmic backlash spreads its wings, madness swirls amid the stars, and the growls engorge before the track disappears into the cosmos. “In the Pleasure of Their Company” is a great instrumental that plays with your mind right away, horns blows out their tension, and wild jazzy noodling takes over as the track gets its legs underneath it. Warm guitars sprawl, the melodies slink all over, and the shadowy savages lurch through and leave madness behind. “Bezumnaya” sinks in chilly winds, chants work their way down your spine, and warbled Russian feels otherworldly and an imminent threat as the strange chaos gets more penetrating. Guitars increase the filth quotient, the playing combusts, and an uncomfortable ambiance takes hold and staggers into the gutters. Closer “Maximalist Scream” dawns with engines roaring and the playing following suit, mauling and thrashing as the bass plods. Snake slips in as his unmistakable voice pulls you into reality, speeding and threatening, making your demise seem imminent. The haze thickens as the warbles increase, unhinged howls erase any sense of safety, and proggy synth swallows this whole, ending the record in a tumble back into time.

Imperial Triumphant hardly have played by any rules or ever worried about accessibility, and that said, it’s still an impactful statement to say “Spirit of Ecstasy” is the band’s weirdest, most unpredictable record to date. It’s also an incredible rush, some of the most imaginative and challenging music of their lives, an album that moves beyond metal in many ways and still remains impossible heavy. This band is a on constant mission to create art that doesn’t flinch, pushes boundaries, and expands what’s possible in heavy metal while remaining an entity that’s operating on a higher level than most other artists.   

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

To buy the album, go here: https://centurymedia.store/dept/imperial-triumphant

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

Triumvir Foul launch offensive to torch malignant forces on savage ‘Onslaught to Seraphim’

There are plenty of people frustrated with religion right now, especially here in the United States where we’re basically under Christian control and where the separation of church and state have been burned as thoroughly as Nordic churches in the early 1990s. It’s infuriating and unacceptable to subject people to a book written 2,000 years ago when technology and knowledge was primitive and when plenty of people don’t care to live by a religion in which they have no investment.

Not that “Onslaught to Seraphim” is inspired by what’s going on in this place, but Triumvir Foul sure as hell sound like they’re sharpening their blades and activating their warn horns on this devastating piece of work. This third record, their first full-length since 2017’s volcanic “Spiritual Bloodshed,” might as well unite those who refuse to live under religious tyranny and will fight back at all costs. The band— guitarist/bassist/vocalist Ad Infinitum (Ash Borer, Serum Dreg), drummer Cedentibus (also of Ash Borer and Serum Dreg as well as Utzala, Dagger Lust and plenty of others)—sounds as channeled and violent as ever as their mix of volcanic black and death metal acts as a firestorm of chaos designed to battle forces that have become oppressive and dangerous. This is livid, putrid, poisonous madness, which is exactly what we need right now.

“Presage” starts this psychological warfare with ominous keys floating and grunted chants before the guts are ripped out violently. The pace is furious as the band tears toward you, delivering punishment that pelts your brain as the final screams wretch with hell. “Flesh Diocese” not only is a great song title, it’s a total ripper, the guitars attacking the reckless bloodshed, the vocals cutting through bones. The leads blaze brightly as howls open congealed wounds, the delirious final moments melting flesh. “Domini Befallen (to Doom)” is sludgy and mauling, letting molten rock bubble through the earth, tearing open and bringing devastation along. Beastly growls pummel, the guitars simmer, and the pace chars, leaving ash and blood behind. “Bašmu Enthralled, Horned Creations” bleeds in and slowly comes to life, the growls strangling as the power eventually bursts. It tears open with a tornadic fury, the playing batters, and the monster lurches again, scraping flesh and taking psyches with it.

“Serpents’ Gnash for War” destroys right away with nasty, bloodthirsty rage, the growls massacring as the pace gets even more humid. Your mind is put to the test, the bass drags bodies behind it, and the leads emit terrible heat as everything ends abruptly. “Slither of Corruption (The Demise of the Three Serpents)” is smashing as the riffs encircle and the growls crush before things gets speedier. Maniacal howls mix with the playing that drills you to the ground, an absolute death crush is achieved, and the power blasts to the end. “Infected Virtue” unleashes rampaging guitars and vile howls, the fluttering pace making your blood rush. The steam rises as the pace rips hard, skulls are crushed, and everything rams into the closing title track that blasts through in a blinding fury. The drums maul as everything comes at you in devastating, dark waves, the vicious growls sounding like they’re gurgling blood. The leads spark fire, raw playing severs spines, and everything spills into hell.

“Onslaught to Seraphim” is a total declaration of war on your senses and the forces Triumvir Foul find oppressive and ripe for destruction. Every record from this band seems to up the hellish ante and puts more weaponry into the fight that won’t end until every opponent’s blood has been shed. This is relentless, unforgiving music that could scare the fuck out of those unprepared for the assault.

To buy the album, go here: https://vrasubatlat.bandcamp.com/album/vt-xxvii-onslaught-to-seraphim

Or here: https://invictusproductions666.bandcamp.com/album/onslaught-to-seraphim

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

And here: https://invictusproductions.net/

Instrumental doom trio Lathe spill dusty, sunburnt melodies, tales on warm ‘Tongue of Silver’

Photo by Daniel Regner

Evening is coming, your blood pressure finally is starting to slow down, and you need to wash in the early darkness because everything you’ve seen today has been too much to absorb. You just want somewhere to rest as you watch the colors in the sky turn into different shades before it all is devoured by the darkness, the only time where you feel secure.

I got that whole vibe from “Tongue of Silver,” the debut full-length of Americana/drone instrumental trio Lathe, who have created an album that makes me think of the finest elements of Earth, Murder By Death, and Pittsburgh power trio the Long Hunt. The band—guitarist/bassist/organist Tyler Davis, pedal steel player/guitarist Eric Paltell, drummer Flynn Diguardia—uses these eight songs to weave together separate vignettes, stories that you can imagine in your own mind as there are no words to guide you. It’s the soundtrack to that time of day I describe in the opening, the perfect companion to reflecting on your pain and suffering as whatever substances you need to relax make their way through your brain. Hey, life is fucked.  

“Vinegar” starts introducing you to the warm pedal steel guitar that’s such a welcome and dominant factor on this record, mixing with the slinking bass and keys dripping, leaving condensation on your windows. Dusty and sunburnt, the playing flows into moody darkness, basking in shadows before rumbling into the night. “Drain” moves in with gothy organs and guitars swimming as the tempo kicks into gear. The pace keeps playing games, luring you in before shaking you, then the drumming comes to life, splintering to the finish. “Heat Wave” brings moody heat, the guitars shimmering and floating, burning through your senses. Your flesh burns as the playing steadily drives, moving further into soaking heat that eventually dissolves. “Rodeo Fumes” opens with engines revving and soaring before the drums go off, and the drama increases. The playing is faster and trudges in spots, increasing the pressure as guitars snake through, drowning out in thick static.

“351W” is a shorter track, almost like an interlude with cataclysmic noise, drone clouds lowering to the earth, crumbling into the atmosphere and spilling into “Cauliflower” that brings bluesy hell that gently rolls over the land, the smoke driving behind it all. Guitars explode and flood as psychedelic power multiplies, the heat intensifies, and the fog finally dissipates. “Journey to the East” moves in with sounds reverberating and a hypnotic haze, the playing swelling and gusting. A heavy psyche atmosphere gets more intense, the music darts toward space, and the melodies rest in the sunset. Closer “Morris” lands with heavy drone, burly muscles, and the guitars creating a glaze. The sounds avalanche as the playing scorches, organs drip into the ground, and the final moments evaporate.

“Tongue of Silver” is an adventure from start to finish, as Lathe carve out these cinematic instrumentals that fill your mind with rich visuals that take you somewhere else. These songs would be perfect at sunset as the light slowly disappears from the sky, and the horizons are baked in oranges and purples. This record was a revelation from the first time I heard it, and it’s sure to take on a new life of its own every time I take this adventure.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/lathe66

To buy the album, go here: https://grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com/album/tongue-of-silver

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Wake traverse dimensions past physical plane on great ‘Thought Form Descent’

Branching out beyond our world into something else, be that physical or mental, sure sounds like a great escape in order to help salve some wounds. We’ve beaten this horse corpse to death, but there is so much horror all around us, and so many people are suffering with psychological conditions that seem endless that taking a trip into a different plane can sound way too irresistible.

Canadian metal dreamers Wake dug deeply into that concept on their excellent sixth record “Thought Form Descent,” their first for genre giant Metal Blade. The album is a concept piece that follows a fictional protagonist who experiences a near-death experience and then comes to terms with wanting to be closer to that reality than the one presented in real life. Using concepts such as lucid dreaming, meditative states, and other metaphysical ideas, the character finds existence on two planes possible but unsustainable, with the end goal seeking to destroy both. It’s a heavy concept, but one that certainly is understandable and approachable. Along with this, the band—vocalist Kyle Ball, guitarists Arjun Gill and Rob LaChance, bassist Ryan Kennedy, drummer Josh Bueckert—also expanded its musical palette, still delivering the heaviness and brutality we’ve come to expect from the band but also adding new elements, dreamier sequences, more melody, and an uncompromising vision that males this fascinating the record the experience that it is.

“Infinite Inward” opens like a sound swarm as it thaws and pushes, the growls smashing the earth. The riffs attack as the atmosphere thickens, the vocals rip, and the playing spirals and tingles, rupturing and slaying as the pain trickles away. “Swallow the Light” mauls as spacious notes reverberate, then the guitars cut through the bone. Black metal-style shrieks take you down as hardcore trudging makes its presence known, scorching and ravaging as the melodies circulate. Light glimmers as calm dawns, the storming slightly returns, and the final jolts of punishment ring out in your ears. “Mourning Dirge (Repose of the Dead)” immediately weighs down on your chest as scathing howls burn and a proggy sequence increases the creativity. Muscles are mashed as the vocals hammer and the playing smothers with relentlessness, the frenetic pace shaking your skeletal structure and gazing into space. “Pareidolia” is a serene instrumental with clean guitars draining, flowing and lighting up the sky.

“Venerate (The Undoing of All)” bubbles to the surface and eventually unfolds, the glorious guitars increasing your serotonin levels. Then a massive death assault is mounted as the drama increases, and the growls crush amid heavy waves of power. A spurt of calm lets you breathe before the hammers drop again, the playing blackens, and the terror fades. “Observer to Master” ruptures as an unforgiving pace rips, the howls ravaging through the universe. Melodic gusts knocks you to the ground, the vocals melt bone, and the guitars beam, frying into your brain. The force loosens bricks from buildings as lava spills from the earth, stampeding before washing away. “Bleeding Eyes of the Watcher” slowly rumbles as the chaos enters and multiplies, the drums coming apart and destroying. A black metal spirit enters the fray as savagery bolts, and the madness floods, the gears smoking as the gears grind. Growls stretch as the playing tramples, slowly turning to ash in the fire. Closer “The Translation of Deaths” is an instrumental that soaks in noise and cloudy coldness, glistering and fading away into a place previously unknown.

Wake always have been one of the more interesting and challenging bands in heavy music, and what they pull off on “Thought Form Descent” makes that crystal clear as these eight thought-provoking and cataclysmic songs wash over you. While a record based on a fictional situation, itreally is something that most people can relate to as we try to work past our own shortcomings and find a way to maintain significance. This record can be a good means to that end, and it also provides an exciting, captivating collection that freshens everything you knew about heavy music.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://www.indiemerch.com/metalbladerecords

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

Wailin Storms steam through darkness, weave broken tales with ‘The Silver Snake Unfolds’

Photo by Andy Marino

There are those movies and stories in which you indulge when it’s dark and hope is bleak as you just try to find a way to get away from your reality. Dusty floors, people weaving through drink and drugs, lives potentially in danger, possibly a ghost in the room. It doesn’t provide much comfort, seeing these stories play out, but your mental security wasn’t really the goal here.

North Carolina-based psyche and noise powerhouse Wailin Storms weaves these types of tales, and they spill over onto their killer second record “The Silver Snake Unfolds,” containing eight tracks that take you on rides through storms and haunted hollows as you watch these stories play out and imitate the tension you feel deep inside. The band—vocalist/guitarist Justin Storms, lead guitarist/backing vocalist Todd Warner, bassist Steve Stanczyk, drummer Mark Oates—unveils an adventure that might make one think more of Nick Cave than anything particularly metallic, but if you don’t think you’re in for heaviness musically and emotionally, you won’t be prepared for the gust that awaits you. This record is dark, dramatic, and explosive, a journey you’ll take over and over, punishment and scars be damned.

“In the Heart of the Sea” is ominous as it dawns, feeling troubled as Storms’ moody singing pushes in as the playing plods, and then the emotions open. “Just you and me on the razor blade, we lay down, down, down,” Storms calls as the playing spirals, and the end bleeds out in a scratchy Hail Mary. “Broken Into Three” lets the drums drive as the guitars jerk, and the vocals yelp. Aggressive tension swells as Storms repeatedly wails, “Get off the streets,” leading to an energy burst that gets faster and louder as it melts away. “Sunday Morning Ceremony” settles in, fog increasing as the spirits set in motion, the pace feeling catchy and meaty. “I feel the cold hand reach inside me,” Storms calls as the playing slinks and burns, the bass plods, and the tempo trickles away. “Drag” gives off a steely western vibe as Storms cries, “Drag me down to the ground.” The playing keeps hypnotizing and liquifying, the situation threatens and grows more volatile, and everything eventually bleeds into the dirt.

“Who Took Our Drugs” lands hard punches as the vocals wail, and dreaminess meets raucous fury, threatening to devour you. Emotions attack as the guitars agitate and scorch, igniting fires and disappearing into echoes. “The Silver Snake Unfolds and Swallows the Black Night Whole” jolts with energy, the guitars swelling and group shouts sending jolts through your body. Foggy undertones obscure your sight, but you can feel the tension strengthening as you battle for safety, letting oceans of blood crust over as Storms emits his final shouts of, “Shake! Break! Shake! Break!” “Concrete Covers Dead Lovers” slowly crawls through the surface, and a gothic storm hovers overhead, promising darkness. “I hear your voice calling,” Storms barks, taking on an Ian Astbury vibe, and then the smoke increases and chokes, dark colors splashing and obscuring your vision. Closer “Carolina Moon” is a fever dream, a dark ghoul that merges into our universe, the playing spreading and glowing. “Sleep by the foot of your bed, even though you’re dead,” Storms calls, feeling dread and longing collect, the guitars bringing massive heat. The final moments pick up and soak in the moonlight, howls generate passion, and the track bleeds into mystery and destruction.

“The Silver Snake Unfolds” touches on something dark and volatile, a seed planted deep within the psyche where things are most likely to end in blood and fire. Wailin Storms have created a new chapter of their sun-scorched, psychologically scarred adventures that reminds that underneath all of the everyday horrors we encounter, there are things buried inside people that are forced into the shadows until they explode. This album encompasses all of that, and hopefully it acts more as a dance partner in misery than a spark that brings the final meltdown.

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

‘To buy the album, go here: https://gileadmedia.net/collections/pre-orders

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

Castrator turn blades toward oppressors, blast vicious death on crushing ‘Defiled in Oblivion’

If you’re living in the United States and feel women and people who can carry children should have their say over their reproductive choices, the past few weeks have been fucking infuriating as we watched a SCOTUS with an agenda destroy progress and right to privacy. What do you expect from a drunken doofus, a man whose wife poorly tried to help overthrow the election, and a bunch of liars?

Metal hasn’t always been kind to women and anyone who is not male, and the misogyny that’s run amok over the years and very much still exists today has been sickening. I say this as a dude who doesn’t experience what they do, so I’m sure I don’t know the half of it. Castrator, a death metal band that has spent the past few years fighting back against oppression both in metal and the world are delivering their crushing debut record “Defiled in Oblivion,” and it goes right for the throat. The band—vocalist Clarissa Badini (also of Vicious Blade, who we just visited a few weeks back), guitarist Kimberly Orellana, bassist Robin Mazen (Derketa, Gruesome), drummer Carolina Perez (Hypoxia)—tears through 10 tracks, one of which is a savage and very fitting cover, and the power absolutely clobbers you and makes it very clear the old guard will not be permitted to stand.

“Dawa of Yousafzai” starts with a clip of Malala Yousafzai declaring, “They thought that the bullet would silence us. But they failed. Weakness, fear, and hopelessness died. Strength, power, and courage was born.” Then grinding, deadly death metal ruptures, tearing apart flesh, draining veins, and the power blows you back. Badini’s growls are deeper and more guttural than her work in Vicious Blade, and she’s surrounded by carnage fueled by rage and revenge. “Tormented by Atrocities” has riffs firing up and tearing things apart, the growls tunneling into chests. There are some weird and punchy moments that make you tilt your head in a good way, the growls gut, and the pummeling ends in guitar squall. “Befoul My Existence” ignites with guitars rampaging and the playing scraping flesh from the bone. The growls smother as the playing generates heat, hazy strangeness hovers, and the fires engulf until the track ends abruptly. “Inquisition Sins” is punishing and chugging, going for the throat as the vocals strike. There’s a growl/shriek mix that chews through muscle as the soloing erupts, rounding back to hell and smashing boundaries. “Voices of Evirato” enters with liturgical chants surrounding and guitars enveloping, the stomping feeling like it’s trying to lead a path to dismemberment. Speedy bursts clobber as the soloing explores, the playing leads to increased heat, and the howled vocals leave bruising.

“Forsaken and Deprived” lets riffs spill from the seams, the speed increasing and making the surroundings seem dangerous and unruly. Growls bring menace as the tempo goes for the throat, rampaging and splattering with ash. “Sinister Mind” has guitars whipping in with force as the vocals are spat out with Badini stabbing, “Don’t waste your time, prepare to die!” The playing keeps the juices flowing violently, and Badini promises “no forgiveness” as the track slashes to the end. “Purge the Rotten (Ones)” unloads speedy riffs and a mucky path that promises to challenge your muscles and well-being. The soloing explodes and rampages toward the sun, crazed charging lays your psyche to waste, and Badini howls, “No one will ever know,” which sends chills down your spine. “Tyrant’s Verdict” comes out of the gates swinging, drawing blood and forcing your face into the ground. Classic thrash-style soling overflows and chars, the growls boil in filth, and vile punishment threatens your security. The record ends with a slashing cover of the Venom classic “Countess Bathory” that completely makes sense and tears down the walls, putting a fresh coat of blood and piss onto a metallic landmark.

Castrator take no prisoners and aim to destroy those who support oppression and tyranny with “Defiled in Oblivion,” a ripping slab of classic death metal. Seeing metal dudes squirm over these four women taking the goddamn burdizzo into their own hands and showing their strength and bloodshed skills surely makes them shake and cower. This is a savage debut record, one that turns the tables on the people who have tried to lead metal by force and cast doubt on anyone who doesn’t look and sound like them. Castrator are here, and now the crumbling authorities no longer are safe.  

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

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

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

Sludge maulers Northless turn toward honoring those we have lost on burly ‘Path Beyond Grief’

Photo by Bronson Karaf

Sorry that you’ve heard this story from us a million times, but people are suffering. There are a lot of people who used to be in our lives just a few years ago who are memories now, and for the survivors, it’s not easy to handle. Life is different, some of us feel stripped of safety and love, and it’s been a fucking mess trying to reassemble the pieces. Because you can’t do that. Pieces you need are gone.

Milwaukee-based doom/sludge maulers Northless did not escape unscathed, and their new record “A Path Beyond Grief” is their means to pay homage to those who have passed this realm and preserve their memory so they can continue to live in our hearts. The band—vocalist/guitarist/synth player Erik Stenglein, guitarist Dan Lee, bassist James Becker, drummer/vocalist Jeff Nicholas—always has been impossibly heavy musically, but to add this level of emotion to their formula makes what they do absolutely flattening. In addition, the band adds new textures to their sound, more clean singing, and an expanded color palette that makes what they do even more immersive.

“Nihil Sanctum Vitae” opens the record with guitars plucked and folkish singing and harmonizing, easing into what turns into a gargantuan killer with the title track delivering muddy crushing. Cleaner calls wash over, wading in punishing and grim power, leveling with anguish as Stenglein howls, “I’m coming home!” The pace continues to add pressure as the atmosphere thickens with wrenching chaos. “Forbidden World of Light” has scarring guitars and hazy clobbering, the vocals howled as the surroundings are thick and sooty. Clean calls merge with the chaos, and then everything comes apart, the world crumbing beneath you as sinister guitars launch. Melodies bleed as growls curdle, the bass trudging as the playing fades. “Carried” blows through with singing moving and an emotional chorus leaving ribcages permanently compromised. Gargantuan howls erupt as the guitars spread and gaze, and the spiraling storm gets heavier and finally dissipates.

“Of Shadow and Sanguine” enters in full assault as vicious howls blacken eyes, and then speed becomes a factor, making your blood rush. Blistering fury increases the intensity, melodic howls send waves crashing, and thick basslines and molten terror dissolve into noise. “What Must Be Done” slowly mauls as murky skies hover, and the punishment dealt is calculated, devastating along the way. Steam rises as the guitars lather, sung shouts penetrate, and the guitars absolutely chug, raining down shrapnel and madness that collects and overwhelms. “Nothing That Lives Will Last” closes the album as it pushes through the darkness, creating somber waves as Stenglein wails, “I emerged from a haze.” The playing and vocals have a bit of a Baroness vibe with the wildness quotient increasing, a huge deluge of melody pulling you into the undertow. The vocals crush as the emotion spills over, amplifying the misery and leaving a trail of broken bones behind.

Many people have been touched by loss and grief these past few years, myself included, and “A Path Beyond Grief” is a bloodletting from the heart that reaches out and pays homage to those we don’t have with us any longer. Northless always have been as heavy as a cement truck, a gut-wrenching band, and here, they remain as devastating but also add new flourishes that really bring the machine to life. It’s not been an easy go for our species as of late, but as we live in the shadows of those who moved on to the next plane, we continue to find ways to honor them while we try to live our lives.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://translationloss.com/products/a-path-beyond-grief

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

PICK OF THE WEEK: Scarcity gaze into grief, loss, pay homage to void on gripping debut ‘Aveilut’

Part of having anxiety and the trouble with guiding it sometimes is the lack of control we have over certain situations. That can make you feel helpless and/or trapped, triggering whatever mechanism in your brain pounds the panic button and makes you choose flight over fight. There’s only so much we can do, only so much authority over the things that happen to us and others that it can be a lot to handle.

That’s not entirely what “Aveilut,” the debut record from Scarcity is about, but it certainly led my brain in that direction over some of the subject matter with which I can identify. This project is helmed by multi-instrumentalist Brendon Randall-Myers, who began to write this record after processing the loss of two people close to him and while caught in lockdown in Beijing in 2020. Randall-Myers, leader of Glenn Branca Ensemble ever since Branca’s passing, worked with vocalist Doug Moore (Pyrrhon, Weeping Sores, etc.) to add a volcanic, unhinged element that increases the misery and devotion to the void. Moore’s own lockdown occurred while living next to a funeral home in New York, one of the epicenters of the plague. So, you can imagine what these two forces, who stared desolation, loss, and tragedy in the eye, created when they got together. Black metal, doom, noise, ambiance, you name it, and it all feels like a trip to the center of devastation.

The record opens with “i” where drone spreads to all reaches of the earth, the guitars spiral, and the drumming pounds a path into your brain. Noise builds as layers are added generously while psychosis increases and limits your comfort. Moore’s shrieks erupt with fury, leads echo and surround, and final cries into the sky lead into “ii.” The track instantly has an industrial feel, driving and penetrating deep into your mind. The pace pushes as the shrieks corrupt while the playing hovers and hypnotizes, the guitars sizzling and streaming amid all of this. Wild terror enacts and gains control, blood sprays, total disorientation makes its presence felt, and deranged howls sink their teeth into muscle before melting away into the waters.

“iii” dawns in guitar fog as the sounds swirl and shrieks decimate, ripping through flesh. The force becomes a lot with which to tangle as the playing catapults and eventually torches your spirit, storming rages, and the momentum pushes toward “iv” that starts with a funereal pace. Growls lurch as the force builds, the noise pierces the fog, and the sounds scorch and push into the cosmos. Sounds glimmer, the power wrenches, and then we’re on to closer “v” that’s the longest track at 13:16. Guitars jostle as the playing unloads and just melts, creating seismic shock and an aura that causes your mind to wander. Synth blends in as the shrieks grab you by the throat and return you to reality, the sounds smear and streak, and that all washes into a gaze of dreams that are more grisly than calming. Shrieks echo, the sound cloud mashes, and everything spills into atmospheric glaze that dissolves into time.

So many people have been touched by loss and have had their lives altered forever, their realities shattered. Randall-Myers’ experiences are all over Scarcity’s debut “Aveilut,” and what he and Moore pour into this catastrophic, emotional journey can act as a means to letting the horrible events we’ve experienced make a little bit more sense. This is a bloodletting and a means to let the negative, sorrowful energies out, and the scathing adventure ends with you taking on more scars but ultimately move closer to healing in the end.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://nowflensing.com/collections/scarcity

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

Behold! The Monolith thunder back with sizzling, humid sludge on ‘From the Fathomless Deep’

Upheaval is a matter of life, and how one deals with that tells a lot about the person’s strength and perseverance. This is heavy metal after all, and keeping things in a state on normalcy is not really an element that makes up this style of music. This breeds chaos, and the forces that make these sounds can be volatile. Or sometimes people just move on to other things, and the overall beast endures change.

Los Angeles sludge beast Behold! The Monolith have been making heavy, quaking sounds for 15 years now, and they have four very solid full-length efforts to their name, the latest being “From the Fathomless Deep,” their first in seven years. This band has been no stranger to lineup changes, sometimes for tragic reasons, but they’ve kept going, weathering every storm that’s come for them. Joining long-time members guitarist Matt Price and drummer Chase Manhattan is vocalist/bassist Menno Verbaten (Cryptic Slaughter, Lightning Swords of Death), taking the band back to its power trio formation they displayed on their first two records. Not satisfied with staying complacent, the band adds southern and classic rock goodness to their gargantuan sound, making this record feel like a summer destroyer. 

“Crown/The Immeasurable Void” starts with a gasp before the sludge rolls in and riffs swagger. Whispers wash through before acoustics take over, bringing a dreamy haze that settles over into bass boiling and a proggy sentiment. The guitars gush again as the mud cakes and stretches toward the cosmos, dual guitars make blood rush, and everything sizzles out. “Psychlopean Dread” enters amid aching echoes that eventually gives way to trudging heaviness and spacey growls that have an alien finish. Warm guitars glow and entrance before the pace picks up, and the waters get increasingly choppy. Twin leads rule, growls draw blood, and thick bass plods toward the gates. “Spirit Taker” enters in furious flames and mixes into a mesmerizing flow, punishing and lurching, the growls mashing muscles. A psychedelic wash grips before things get breezy and then raucous, the guitars go off, and the chorus is wailed as the final moments bubble away.

“This Wailing Blade” dawns with a southern rock vibe, burly singing powering, the gritty bridge leading to the mauling chorus. The guitars glimmer, bringing on memories of summers long passed, the elements soak in the juices, and the simple, but muscular chorus lashes back again before fading. “The Seams of Pangaea” opens with a bluesy tone and speak singing, and the playing slowly increases its presence, launching into a spacey void. Moody guitars give off a mystical glaze, and then everything explodes with furnace pressure, feeling like it’s translating what warm weather feels like, the bass diving for gems. The playing flutters as the atmosphere shocks, mauling with precision to the very end. Closer “Stormbreaker Suite” is the longest track, running 11:25 and immediately serving generous amounts of sludgy guitar. It’s a slow crusher for a good stretch, increasing psychedelic heat, the flames lapping and leaving soot on your flesh. The leads infect as the playing keeps developing, bringing awesome energy as faces are melted before acoustics blend in, the final embers washed away at sea.

It’s been quite a while since we’ve heard from Behold! The Monolith, but they make up for that absence with this muscular, atmospherically rich fourth record “From the Fathomless Deep.” This album seems to drink as deeply from the darkest reaches of the ocean as it does outer space, and the band’s mix of sludge, doom, and southern musical accents makes for a full-bodied, incredibly satisfying listen. This record feels like a statement from a mighty force reborn, one with experience and more tricks up their sleeve than you realized could fit in their massive arsenal.   

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

To buy the album (U.S.), go here: https://ripplemusic.bigcartel.com/products

Or here (Europe): https://www.ripple-music.com/ripple-eu/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.ripple-music.com/