Aussie skies darken further as Evoker slithers from hell with crushing first EP ‘Evil Torment’

Why is metal from Australia so vile and uncompromising? That place terrifies me based on the sounds coming out of there, but digging a little deeper, there are more things going on that have to be amplifying the terror. My guess is the spiders and snakes. The huntsman spider can 100 percent fuck off, as can the inland taipan. Wait, I’m learning there are huntsman spiders in the US?!

I also blame these things for the insanity that is spread all over “Evil Torment,” the debut EP offering from Evoker, a trio hailing from the Down Under place that offers punishment that veers into both death and black metal. They’re been going for about four years now, but this six-track, nearly 23-minute collection is the first time a larger audience will hear what they have to offer thanks to Blood Harvest getting behind this thing. The band–guitarist/vocalist Merlin Quinlan, bassist Hass, drummer Eren Steyr-Aug—mangles you from the start, and since we’re talking a mini release, they obviously waste no time taking it to you over and over again until they’ve gotten into your head and drawn blood physically. Like that goddamn snake!

“From the Depths” crashes in out of a lightning storm and rushes at you with an instant ferocity. Infernal howls buckle you at the knees as Quinlan howls, “From the depths, the evil awaits.” Furious leads trudge through old-school death grounds before rushing back out. “Old Evil” destroys with a rapidly spat chorus and Quinlan calling of “raising hell on earth.” Soloing blazes out as everything in sight is bound to be destroyed, with the final moments drenched in doom and death bells. “Shackled to the Grave” has ominous riffs and gruff shouting while the guitars swim amongst everything. “Let me die, endless torment,” Quinlan wails while the track devotes itself to a heavily thrashing finish.

“Exhumation of the Damned” clobbers right from the word go as it races dangerously and settles into a thrashy hell. Guitars light up and spread havoc while the title is howled over and over on the chorus, and the track hammers closed. “Sacrilicious Lust” blazes away and exposes you to monstrous heat while the vocals are heaved out like poison. The barnstorming pace at which they deliver this is intimidating as they set to squash everything in front of them. “Parasomanic” is your closer, and it begins with doomy riffs that eventually give away to a blinding assault. Nasty growls combine with a crushing pace, and then the soloing utterly explodes. Doomy winds blow again later, only to be dumped into a sizzling cauldron, left there to burn into oblivion.

Evoker’s first official foray into the smoldering death and black metal worlds is a short but effective burst that gives a good indication of what this band is capable of accomplishing. “Evil Torment” is a great first seed as their roots grow beneath the surface as they finally break through the Earth. This is some devastating stuff, and this is only beginning for this promising Aussie death squad.

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

To buy the album, go here: http://shop.bloodharvest.se/?s=evoker&post_type=product

For more on the label, go here: http://www.bloodharvest.se/

PICK OF THE WEEK: Pirate savagery bloodies up Cauldon Black Ram’s ransacking devastator ‘Slavers’

We’ve never written about pirate metal on this page, and we aren’t about to goddamn start now. Funny enough, in my inbox is a promo for one of the silliest metal albums of the year, and I can’t imagine wanting to write about it. But that’s not to say that metal about warriors hitting the high seas to invade lands is without merit. There is plenty of violent stuff about Vikings, so why not pirates?

Aussie trio Cauldon Black Ram have brought gnarly adventures about violence and pillaging for nearly 25 years now, but they’re not here to write about silly parties and tongue-in-cheek hijinks. This band is here to wreck you, destroy your village, and take whatever the fuck they want, which they make clear on “Slavers,” their fourth album and first in six years. Over these 10 tracks, the band—guitarist/vocalist Alim, bassist/vocalist Gruesome, drummer/vocalist Esh—unloads smashing yet engaging chaos that comes at you at fast as it possibly can, chewing you up in the gears. Combining members of notable groups such as StarGazer, Mournful Congregation, Road Warrior, Martire and so many others, Cauldron Black Ram are deadlier and bloodier, with a rusty razor’s edge.

“Flame” starts off the record with a black metal-style rupture as things melt into a swaggering section before shit gets smashed. Grisly growls and monstrous thrashing drive the way as the leads sweep out and boundaries melt. “Smoke Pours From the Orifices of the Crematory Idol” has a doomy edge as it takes a mid-pace battering to you with growls lurching in the filth. Dual leads intertwine and glimmer as the track rings out at the end. “Stones Break Bones” opens with burly growls and a stampeding pace as the riffs catch fire. Leads glow and tear while mucky hell is unleashed with weird keys adding a glaze that makes the song feel funereal. “Graves Awaiting Corpses” lands heavy blows as speak-style growls drive into your chest. The playing is slurry and disorienting while the bass recoils, and the playing mashes bones as the vocals sound like a chorus of orcs coming for your throat. “His Appearance” is a quick instrumental that ties a bow on the first half as it brings noble smashing and cool melodies.

“Whore to War” is menacing as it bubbles from the cracks while the growls spread soot in your face. The track rampages and aggravates an already building fire, while the intensity is maintained before charging to its conclusion. “Temples to Death” barnstorms like a beast as the guitars slink in spots, and infernal growls rupture from the guts. Twin guitars race into foul weirdness as the growls gush blood, and the song ends abruptly. The title track surrounds you with a wall of guitars meeting up with hissing growls and a disgusting assault into darkness. A weird gust spits before the playing goes into loops, and the destruction levels the walls. “The Pit” clobbers heavily, bringing with it massive growls and a strong tempo that tears through you. Terror spreads amid a violent assault that ends in a pit of horror. “His Exultance” is the final track, a story-ending instrumental that’s muddy and leaves your mind altered, slaying you in bizarre transmissions.

There’s a lot of silly shit out there when it comes to bands imagining they’re boarding ships and ransacking lands, but Cauldron Black Ram never have given in to those tendencies and always has been a band that delivers the violence it promises. They totally wreck you on “Slaver,” an album that feels like you’ve been rushed by invaders who are aiming to burn down your city wall to wall. The six years we waited for these destroyers was well worth it considering the amount of destruction contained within these smothering 36 minutes.

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

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

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

Old Man Gloom back with more blasting trickery on noisy twin maulers ‘Seminar VIII,’ ‘Seminar IX’

There are those out there who just live to fuck with people and get utter glee in seeing the reaction to their chicanery. As long as those teases aren’t vitriolic or harmful to others, what the hell is wrong with that? Well, unless you can’t take a joke, and if you’re one of those, do try to lighten up already. But that idea of being a lifelong troll fits Old Man Gloom like a glove.

For their last release “The Ape of God,” the band sent out a promo version that combined songs from each version of the record, making it seem like only one album was coming. Nope. Two. This is on top of their typical hijinks on social media where it seems like the band is in an endless turmoil of personal and professional issues, all of which are total bullshit and always hilarious. Now, six years later, the band is back with two more records again, though they showed their hand a few weeks back when they released one for immediate download on Bandcamp to give something cool to their fans suffering in quarantine. They teased ideas like making one record and then some members making a second record the other band members would know nothing about to pull the jokes inward, which is hysterical. Instead they dropped “Seminar VIII: Light of Meaning” and “Seminar IX: Darkness of Being” as two separate, altogether explosive releases that also fall after the passing of their bandmate Caleb Scofield, who does play on the album. The rest of the band—Nate Newton (guitars, vocals), Aaron Turner (vocals, electronics), Santos Montano (drums)—brought on Stephen Brodsky, Scofield’s bandmate in Cave In, to round out the group on two releases that are scarred with noise, blister your senses, but also show a vulnerable side to them that tries to celebrate the gifts we have right now.

“EMF” unloads noises that sound like stomach churning before the track openly mauls you, and Newton’s screams bruise your face, and then it’s onto “Wrath of the Weary” where Turner’s inhuman barks take front and center. The playing jolts, and long stretches of noise challenge your psyche before fading into a storm. “True Volcano” brings noise sheets and bubbling sounds that appear corrosive. The track then pounds away with Newton on fire repeating the call, “That fucking scares me!” over the chorus before the track melts back into the miasma. “Final Defeat” is the first of three lengthy tracks that round out the album, this one clocking in at 11:43. The first few minutes hum and sting before Brodsky takes over the singing, calling lines such as, “Saints and sinners, they’re all the same.” The song fades back into the noise cave while vocal harmonizing segues into a sound funnel. “Calling You Home” runs 11:08 and starts with serious jolts and guitars exploring terrain. Newton’s singing creeps into the picture as he wails, “I am watching, I am waiting,” while the track bubbles around him. The final moments mash hard before scraping away. “By Love, All Is Healed” is the closer and spirals into your psyche while seismic shifts and Turner’s barks pound you. Some clean notes hypnotize, as well as a preview riff that mimics the start of the opening track on “IX,” as this track repeats and agitates right to the final note.

“Procession of the Wounded” pounds away from the start of “IX” with a repeating segment that powers the body of the song, later cut into with Turner’s shouts that only serve to amplify the effects of the room spinning. “Heel to Toe” is a quick smasher of pounding sludge and Newton’s shouts peeling paint from the walls. That continues until everything is devoured by a sound storm. “The Bleeding Sun” has guitars awakening, Turner shouting at you, and a pace that suddenly speeds up. The track punishes and smashes before a noise that sounds like an airplane freefalling wakes you up. “Canto de Santos” runs 10:20, and the front section has string being plucked from the earth and a long noodling war before the bottom drops out. “No more watching, no more waiting,” Newton vows as the guitars spill all over the place, and the track eventually is overtaken by beastly strangeness. “Death Rhymes” piles on acoustic guitars and buzzing as Faith Coloccia drops by to add her harmonies. The ambiance is moody and dark, ending in a bleeding squall. “In Your Name” runs a generous 12:31 and begins with sounds that feel like they emanate from the Atari version of Asteroids. Drums awaken and the riffs rule while Newton shouts over psyche sparks. It feels like cosmic shock in areas, while Turner belts over the chaos, and then we’re into a noise hum and what sounds like a handful of change rattling around in the dryer. “Love Is Bravery” ends the collection, and it provides a glimmer and hope and optimism in the midst of the total lack thereof in our lives. “We only have now, we only have each other,” Newton calls, in the shadow of a fallen Scofield. Later on, Newton commands, “Love is strength, love is power,” before finally vowing, “We don’t break,” as the song rings out in clicks that sound like a camera taking snapshots of this moment in time.

Old Man Gloom have been through a ton amongst each other with losing their friend and bandmate, though forging ahead together as a collection of family members, not just a band, really shines through on “Seminar VIII” and “Seminar IX.” These are lively, corrosive albums that don’t have an inch of fat on them and sound as good as anything that preceded them. OMG live on, they’ve solidified their connection together, and it won’t be long until they’re endlessly fucking with us again.

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

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

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

Mountaineer’s heartfelt bursts rip through doom, gazey power on mind-tingling ‘Bloodletting’

It’s really hard to enjoy a wide array of emotions right now, because there is so much fear and uncertainty, as well as frustration, that pushing your mind further isn’t an easy thing to do. But there are ways to do this, hard as it might be to find, but once you get a hold of something that helps you transcend, you can push beyond the chaos.

It was during one of my many listens to “Bloodletting,” the third record from Bay Area artists Mountaineer, where things really came into focus for me. This record is a real step up for this band, an expansive set of songs that are atmospheric and completely heart swelling, being absolutely unafraid to show vulnerability in what can be a stupidly macho metal world. The band—vocalist Miguel Meza, guitarists Clayton Bartholomew, Isaac Rigler, and Forrest Harvey, bassist Dillon Variz, drummer Patrick Spain—combines doom, dreamgaze, sludge, and so many more elements into an imaginative collection that can fill your head with wonder. There are amazing highs here, sorrowful lows, and earnest attempts to connect beyond a superficial level with important people who are forces in life. It’s hard to really put into proper perspective here, so just go listen to it, yes?

“Blood of the Book” opens the record with group harmonizing and guitars that bring a jazzy vibe before the track bursts open, and harsh shouts rattle you. Clean singing switches in later as the playing reaches an emotional deluge, organs pile on, and the track has an overwhelming crescendo. “The Weeds I Have Tended” opens and floods the place as the vocals switch off from screams to clean expressions. Meza’s yelps have a Hetfield dryness to them, as strong playing backs him heavily, and heavy sludge pours in and floods all the way to the gates. “Shot Through With Sunlight” has a somber start before the track bursts at the seams, as Meza’s singing glazes over your eyes. Every time the song goes to a trickle, you know there’s a burst on the other side that delivers blistering playing and emotional, crushing waves. The final minutes of the song bring gut-wrenching playing that demands your total investment. “To Those We’ve Said Goodbye” opens with delicate playing and a psyche-washed, Pink Floyd-style vibe that unfurls its wings. The singing gushes as spiritual pall develops, letting the playing rush and fill you with so much heartfelt energy that it may take a moment to recover afterward.

The title track has feedback looping and clean singing scraping, really peaking over the chorus. The song is heavy as hell but also mindful and atmospheric as the guitars calm before things ramp back up again, coming to a climax that pays off with psychological reward. “South to Infinity” opens with buzzing guitars and vicious howls,  a total 180 from the previous few tracks. Later the cold winds arrive along with harmonized singing and a trickling pace that eventually explodes. The back end of the song is both dreamy and punchy as the playing continues until the fuel dies out. “Apart” flows gently at the start as hazy singing and airy playing make you want to gaze at the sky. Meza laments about being “so far apart from how it used to be” (no way he knew how prophetic those words would turn out to be) as the playing swirls and delivers hypnosis. “Ghost Story” is the closer for the vinyl version as it has the feel of a story-ending ballad that helps pay the emotional toll. “I cannot shake you, I cannot,” Meza laments while the song continues to expose the aching heart and internal wounds. “If you ever change your mind, you know where to look,” Meza calls as the waves crash down, and an acoustic dash takes it home. “Still” is a bonus track for the CD and digital versions, and the song pushes open and bustles, pushing straight through your chest. “I want this to end, I need to begin again,” Meza wails, again not realizing the weight that line would hold on the day this record is released, as the track catapults toward an ending that rings in your ears.

Mountaineer seem to have really struck something on “Bloodletting,” a record that you’ll want to revisit often just to fully examine every layer that unfolds in front of you when you take that trip. This is an album that you’ll feel deep in your chest if you allow yourself to connect fully, and as long as you’re not holding yourself back from that relationship, it’ll be a fulfilling journey. This is a great time to extend your gamut of emotions, and Mountaineer can help you get there with this really powerful album.

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

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

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

Cosmic Putrefaction imagine odd wasteland amid death snarls on horrific ‘The Horizons Towards…’

You’re looking over a decayed, destroyed alien wasteland. You can tell there has been some sort of habitation, but you can’t tell when nor how long things have been in this state. Scanning the horizon, there is no real hint of anything lurking, but you just don’t know, and there’s no way for you to feel safe in your new surroundings.

If you get that sensation taking on “The Horizons Towards Which Splendour Withers,” the second full-length from Cosmic Putrefaction, you’re not alone. I couldn’t stop imagining this scene as this vile expression of death metal plays out. Italian composer Gabriele Gramaglia (he goes by the moniker G.G. for this project), who also is the brains behind The Clearing Path and Summit, unleashes some of his most vicious and visceral music yet on this album. It also will play tricks with your mind, hence the strange nightmare scene that keeps playing out in my head and is detailed above. On top of that, these six tracks that run over a compact 34:31 provide just enough of a punch to get your strangest inhibitions going but never overstay their welcome. It’s nasty.

“Between Awe and Fear Upon the Burst of the Ominous Star” tears the lid off the record with death lurking in all corners, and gross, vicious growls strike as the tempo punches away and the bass playing warps. Leads open up the atmosphere, but then it’s back to straight-up mauling right up to the mucky finish. “This Landscape Sublimates Oblivion to Obliteration”  lets guitars get fired up as the growls swallow you into its stomach and release the gastric acid. The playing trudges away until we head into the stars for some wondrous imagination before reality takes hold again and delivers violence.  Vast destruction is handed out as the pace fires hard, with everything ending in a pit of vicious growls. “The Glooming Murk of His Telluric Shrieks” is full of warped guitars and buzzsaw vocals that roll in the deepest basements of hell. The playing creaks before giving way to thrashy madness, while your head spins uncontrollably, and then everything ends in a strange wash of calming acoustics.

“Abysmal Resonance Projection” bursts with strange sound effects and punishment tossed with eerie whispers. The track then detonates as a tornadic path is carved before it halts for a brief display of space synth. Then it’s back to a tempered pace that’s still ridiculously heavy as melodies swirl, and things come to an unsettling end. “The Arcane Soothsayer Carefully Sculpted His Demise” destroys from the word go as the playing is thrashy and ugly, while speaking echoes and the guitar slurs. Growls barrel through as the playing glimmers, continually ripping holes in your sanity until the keys drip the last remnants of brain matter. “Utterance of the Fall of Man” is your closer, and we’re introduced to a warm synth bath and like-minded guitars that later get eaten up by a doomy fury. The growls slither through filth while the guitars burn, heading toward another bout with the cosmos. It feels like there are stars in your head as the playing feels hypnotic, and you’re lured past the sun to terrain unexplored.

Cosmic Putrefaction’s mind-bending death metal continues to explode into the galaxy on “The Horizons Towards Which Splendour Withers,” a title that takes longer to type than it takes to hear this fascinating display, or so it seems. This is music that sparks the most morbid of thoughts and inspires vision of horrors one could not imagine alone without the accompaniment of this music. This is a massively destructive display that eats away at your brain and leads you into madness.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Cosmic-Putrefaction-331030417723505/

To buy the album, go here: http://i-voidhanger.com/shop/

For more on the label, go here: http://i-voidhanger.com/

PICK OF THE WEEK: Ashtar’s murky mashing of black metal, molten doom crashes down on ‘Kaikuja’

This day has been one technological failure after another, and considering I don’t handle stress all that well, especially with things that are out of my control, let’s just say the nosebleeds I had tonight were no big surprise. The more bogged down I get, the more I lock down creatively, and then I just have to take time away from the project to forget it exists for a while.

Stress has pretty much been ongoing for the past couple months, which I’m sure is happening with just about everyone, and a battle with it a few weeks ago led me to talking a long secluded walk, and during that excursion, I listened to “Kaikuja,” the second record from Swiss duo Ashtar. Honestly, I wasn’t too familiar with the band—Nadine Lehtinen (vocals, bass, guitar, and violin) and Marko Lehtinen (guitar, bass, drums, vocals)—prior to this record. Hey, even with all the music I hear every week, it does happen. But this experience was an eye-opener, one that revealed a band melding black metal, doom, noise, and plenty of other abrasive elements in a package that really stands out from what a lot of other artists are doing. Ashtar went from a band that lived on the periphery to me to one whose moves I plan to track as they move through their run together as a band. They’re stuck with me.

“Aeolus” begins the record with a blast as Nadine’s shrieks hammers thoroughly before the track gets slower and thicker. It tears open again as a heavy storm while the vocals slice through bone, the pace prods and strikes, and slurry guitars mix out into the end. “Between Furious Clouds” is the longest track here at 13:47, as it starts with clean, lush playing and delicate strings. The song slowly opens into a doomy cauldron as the playing bruises, and strangeness lurks behind the scenes. Darker riffs enter as the speed catches on, the doom underbelly rumbles, and a charging pace meets up with Nadine’s horrifying shrieks that meld together and exit in a blast.

“Bloodstones” begins with riffs striking and ferocious vocals blasting along with them, as the ambience feels ominous and threatening. Nadine’s shrieks smash into mournful melodies, and then things begin to pick up violently. Blades flash as the terror builds, eating away at your psyche until the track finally subsides. “The Closing” slowly drubs as doomy, grimy playing chokes up veins, and Nadine’s voice amplifies the fright. Guitars rain down as a muddy texture makes your footing impossible as doomy riffs collect, and the vocals spit their final nails. “(She is) Awakening” is the closer and starts as menacing and threatening. The pace is calculating as the leads glow, and Nadine’s harsh cries slice the skin. The playing temporarily halts only to usher in echoing guitars and strings that moan like horns. That builds into a strange blaze that chokes you with smoke only to finally fade into a noise squall that swallows everything in sight.

Ashtar’s mix of doom, black metal, and unique atmosphere is on full display on “Kaikuja,” and it’s easy to understand why someone as heralded and respected as Tom G. Warrior heaped praise on this Swiss duo. This is a record that grabbed me from moment one and demanded my undivided attention over its riveting, pounding 40 minutes. This band already has found an audience among the elite of heavy metal, and hopefully more people will hear Ashtar to understand just how devastating they are.

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

To buy the album, go here: https://store.eisenton.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.eisenton.de/

Wailing Storms unleash visons of hopelessness, torment with psyche-smearing debut ‘Rattle’

Stop me if you heard this one before, but shit’s way off, man. I feel like a broken record by leading with those elements so often, but even before we entered the strange time period in which we’re in, society in general was in a tailspin and not looking to even out anytime soon. All this has done is amplify those issues and expose it with mega force.

Durham, N.C., band Wailin Storms poured their feelings of hopelessness in a world that feels more foreign every day into their full-length debut album “Rattle,” an eight-track excursion that acts as a relentless backhand to the face. But that strike is not to hurt; rather it’s to wake you up to reality, to help you see just what’s going on around  you and why you shouldn’t just take it. The band mixes elements of rock, noise, psychedelics, punk, and southern-tinged melodies on a record that covers love, death, torment, and the everyday failings of life. The foursome—vocalist/guitarist Justin Storms, guitarist/backing vocalist Todd Warner, bassist Steve Stanczyk, and drummer Mark Oates—found a home on Gilead Media here in the States and Antena Krzyku in Europe for a record that should jar you awake and demand you pay attention.

The title track gets things started with guitars emerging from the fog as Storms’ vocals echo, and the music bleeds into ominous tones. The band smashes away as the intensity builds, as Storms howls, “Rattle my heart!” while the playing bashes and everything disappears into a bluesy smoke. “Rope” punches your chest as the words are spat out deliberately as Storms calls, “Take the rope that hugs our throat and wrap it around the tree.” Guitars rush from there as the band blasts away, ending in a shimmer of echo. “Grass” feels spooky when it enters as longing is embraced, and the volume kicks in the door. “I’ll follow you with an empty heart,” Storms vows while the pace grows more fiery, and the drums pound you into submission. “Wish” blends into plodding noise, with Storms warning, “Don’t you wish her well.”  The guitars glaze and grow darker, as Storms follows up, “She’ll only take you to hell,” while the playing blasts your guts as the song tracks away.

“Teeth” starts with guitars quivering and the track slinking in the shadows as Storms demands, “Take my teeth out one by one.” The heat keeps rising, and the tension thickens as the vocals keep lashing back, and the back-end dissolves into foreboding nighttime. “Sun” starts with Storms vowing, “I am the forgotten one,” while the playing gets thunderous, with start-stop gashing that open wounds. The playing continues to gain steam as it goes on, burning the surface of your skin with dangerous UV rays you can’t avoid. “Crow” buzzes as stick taps set the pace, and the dreary ambiance spreads its wings. Storms’ vocals boom heavily over the song, as he takes on a sort of Michael Hutchence/Ian Astbury style of primal expression, as the track goes on, the rains grow heavier and harder to manage before everything slowly moves into the darkness. “End” is your closer, fittingly, and the cloud coverage darkens the skies, while mournful melodies weep, and Storms’ forceful singing cuts through it all. Group vocals join up with him later on as guitars loop through mystery, and the playing pulls back before one final gust. There, every element comes together, heating up the song’s core as its molten insides finally crack through the surface.

Wailing Storms come to us at a time when it feels like we’re constantly in the middle of those very things, at least from a psychological standpoint. “Rattle” is a great mix of anxious, frustrated rock that comes with all different types of styles with plenty of emotion and raw power wrapped within it. This is a tremendous way to blow off some steam you have building within your core from a band whose own vision of modern times feels painfully right on the money.

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

To buy the album (North America), go here: https://gileadmedia.net/collections/gilead-media-releases

Or here (Europe): http://www.antenakrzyku.pl/en/product-category/shop/

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

And here: http://antenakrzyku.pl/