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No Truce/Crucified split CD

Posted on Wednesday, April 30th, 2008 @ 4:20am » permalink

No Truce/Crucified - splitThe latest from Escapist Records is this killer split CD between two California hardcore bands with a penchant for the 90's style of metallic hardcore and subtly apocalyptic lyrical themes, totaling seven tracks in just under 20 minutes. No Truce kicks things off with three tracks of thick, bass-heavy, in your face metallic hardcore that blends vicious breakdowns and loads of fast, straightforward hardcore chord progressions with pissed off vocals and all that jazz. On occasion they'll toss in a little bit of dissonance to color things up a bit, and that's a great touch. Nothing too fancy, it just works, you know? Crucified then follows with four tracks of their rather similar take on this niche, granted their vocal approach has more of a bitter sneer to it that lends a certain air of explosiveness to their compositions. Though ironically there's probably a little more of a midpaced chug happening within these four tracks as well, so it's cool that the fury of the vocals kind of counters that and works to amp things up. Both bands are pretty much sticking to tried and true metallic hardcore "formulas", but I'd say that's the case with the vast majority of these types of acts, and there's not a damn thing wrong with that in my book. I wasn't familiar with either of these bands prior to checking out this split, but I obviously should've been, so I'll be looking forward to hearing more material from both of 'em in the future. Good stuff.

No Truce "The Binding of the Wolf"
Crucified "Order Out of Chaos"

The disc's only like $6, which is cheap as hell, so pick it up if you like what you hear. It should also be available in mp3 format from Download Punk in the near future, too.

Purchase:

@ Interpunk
@ RevHQ

Revok "Bad Books and Empty Pasts" CD

Posted on Tuesday, April 29th, 2008 @ 6:51am » permalink

Revok - Bad Books and Empty PastsThe last time I wrote about an impressive French band, several people posted comments suggesting Revok, and before I could check them out for myself, the band actually contacted me and offered to send me their debut full-length, " Bad Books and Empty Pasts", on Rejuvenation Records. And holy shit, I absolutely understand why people were telling me to check this band out, because this is an absolutely excellent album that really has a lot to offer. The base of their approach should definitely appeal to fans of this niche of the French scene, what with its pulsing rhythms and dark, grating textures and scathing vocals. However, the direction in which they're heading is also incredibly distinct, and really sets them apart from other (often more standard) acts that explore these realms of "extreme music".

For one thing, the compositions explore a much wider range of influences, offering a more consistent sense of spaciousness and melody that makes for a completely uncategorizable big picture. Loads of killer, intricate basslines pulse and throb and roam to lay the groundwork alongside warm, natural percussion; while the guitars weave in, out, and around through a range of dissonant textures that brings to mind "noise rock", math metal, and even some emo/indie sensibilities. The vocals are also pretty colorful, often employing strange techniques that combine singing, speaking, and sneering – which really adds to the overall atmosphere of the material and fits in well within the spaciousness of the music. It's impressive how awesomely everything pieces together, really. I mean, the recording is superb, and the mix keeps one guitar on the left and the other on the right, thus allowing plenty of focus to fall towards the rhythm section. This also highlights the fact that the two guitars are damn near never doubling one another (or the bass, for that matter), so there's always something unique happening on all sides and layering together into the whole. Very fucking cool. Very. I'd be curious to hear if their two prior EP's were already at this level of curious innovation…

Revok "Bills Pay Pills"

I knew the abyss like the back of my hand. I might have not seen the sun enough. Trying to hide the sky to broken mirror eyes. Failing in hearing the echoing voices of the old ones. The passed ones. Small blizzards passing through. It takes your hand and takes you for a walk or a ride. Hard to tell before the seizure hits. A lifetime effort sending you in a place filled with old books and bad attitudes. Like reading an article with synæsthesia and being washed in a cascade of confusing colors and perfumes. Until all senses are gone. Not making any sense anymore.

The disc is housed in a slick, glossy digipack with some simple yet intriguing artwork throughout the cover and six-panel foldout insert, which also contains the oft-cryptic lyrics. So… a nice release all around, this one. Certainly recommended, and though I'm not entirely sure about ordering information, I'd recommend contacting the band or the label on MySpace to see about getting your hands on this gem. And I received my copy from the band in less than a week if that influences your decision to act at all!

Javelina "s/t" CD

Posted on Monday, April 28th, 2008 @ 6:58am » permalink

Javelina - s/tThe debut album from Philadelphia's Javelina (released by Translation Loss Records) is chock full of sludgy, dingy, gritty fuckin' rock… meets hardcore/punk/metal/whatever the fuck you want to call it. In fact, at times certain facets of their approach remind me of Alabama Thunder Pussy's mighty early days, granted Javelina's triple-vocal attack offers up a harsher-edged array of shouts 'n' yells 'n' sneers. And, accordingly, their heavy yet rockin' backbone tends to branch out into a more aggressive array of pounding basslines, erratic flurries of hammering drum fills, and thicker, nastier guitars – where the occasional dual guitar runs are more like NWOBHM via Eyehategod (if that makes any sense) than any 70's-esque rock 'n' roll throwbacks. I don't know, there's probably a small hint of some of that kinda shit in there, too (check out some of the more fuzzed out/less noisy bursts lead playing during the seven-minute "Architect"), but… it's all just a little nastier and more over the top here, you know? Not that they're really trying to rewrite the book on this particular niche or anything like that, 'cause they're not, but… the overall sense of energy definitely does the trick for me, and keeps things moving along at a strong pace that carries the listen well and leaves you feeling content when all is said and done. Good stuff. That's all there is to it.

Javelina "Throttled"

Oh, and the lyrics are kinda badass as well:

Snake handler, serpent preacher, touched by tongues. Partake in the poison from the mouth of your god. Anointed by fire. Fangs of Christ. Cleansed from within. Clergy of snakes, captors of man. Eulogy of snakes, prisoners of faith.

Purchase:

@ Translation Loss Records
@ The End Records
@ Relapse Records
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)

Awesome band needs label: The Eight Arms Around You

Posted on Sunday, April 27th, 2008 @ 9:42am » permalink

The Eight Arms Around YouThe Eight Arms Around You is a new, creative metallic hardcore band from Gothenburg, Sweden that features members of Scraps of Tape, Smackdown, Anchor, Dead Vows, and One Final Breath. I think the incredible (and vastly different) Scraps of Tape is the only one of those bands that I've heard before, but it's because of that fact that I got to discover The Eight Arms Around You, as Johan Gustavsson from Scraps of Tape (and now The Eight Arms…) sent me an email asking me to check out the band and see what I think. I was way into it – they remind me a lot of early Burst (when they were at their absolute best, in my opinion), with some stuff like Catharsis and His Hero is Gone thrown in (though The Eight Arms… seems to be heading in a darker and perhaps more personal direction in some ways) – so I offered to help them out by posting a track from their recently recorded five-song EP to see if anyone out there might be interested in releasing it. I've only heard two songs, but they're both fuckin' killer, and these guys really seem to be efficiently fusing a shitload of different influences together, so… here's an advance track to check out:

The Eight Arms Around You "Guilt Ridden"

If anyone reading this is interested in releasing this EP, or knows someone else who might be, please either pass the word along or get in touch with the band on MySpace and see if you can make it happen!

Anacrusis "Manic Impressions" CD

Posted on Friday, April 25th, 2008 @ 6:56am » permalink

Anacrusis - Manic ImpressionsI'm quite surprised it's taken this long for me to officially give a nod to Anacrusis here on the site, as they're one of the more innovative and unquestionably unique progressive metal bands of all time. Formed in the late-80's as a diverse though harsher-edged unit, they had grown into a much more mature and adventurous (if still underappreciated) outfit by the time they called it quits in 1993, shortly after the release of their final album, "Screams and Whispers". And for the longest time I felt like "Screams and Whispers" was my favorite Anacrusis album, but as the years pass I'm not so sure anymore. The more I listen to it, the more their third full-length, "Manic Impressions" (released by Metal Blade in 1991), has slowly inched into that top spot. Make no mistake, "Screams and Whispers" is an absolute classic, and I recommend it just as highly as this material, but… I now feel like this record's just a hint more consistent in terms of overall songwriting quality.

If you've never heard the band, this album is where they really, truly started to come into their own and fully realize the foundation of their overall vision. Retaining just the right amount of the harsher, speedier thrash riffing and shrieking vocals from their debut, the technicality and diversity of the progressive influences really gelled here – with much more singing, melody, and far more memorable songwriting. This material also really set in stone the band's unique set of production values, as their guitar and bass tones are immediately recognizable, and have rarely been similarly utilized in this combination by any act since. Furthermore, their penchant for hard-panning the guitars in the mix makes for some great headphone listening, as you can really hear how the dual guitar lines differ and work alongside one another in tandem with the crisp basslines.

While "Screams and Whispers" contains a handful of absolutely stunning compositions, this album's standout, "What You Became", remains my favorite Anacrusis track of all time, and really hits home right off the fucking bat. Hell, even their cover of New Model Army's oddly titled "I Love the World" is fucking incredible. You can't lose. I definitely hope I'll introduce some new fans to these guys here, so… see what you think!

Anacrusis "What You Became"
Anacrusis "Dream Again"
Anacrusis "I Love the World" (New Model Army cover)

You've grown into this faceless mask and empty shell. And, like a ghost of your indulgence, you wear them well. Still haunting something, by your own hand, lost. And you shiver with the chilling sense. You've saved nothing for yourself… The lies, the games, devoid of guilt or shame. Now you resent what you became, and the reality of only you to blame…

This one's out of print, of course, but thanks to the band's criminally underrated status as more of a "cult favorite" you can still grab the CD for less than $2 at Amazon.com (and it's on iTunes as well, if you prefer).

Purchase:

@ Amazon.com
@ iTunes (mp3)

Restrained "s/t" 7"

Posted on Thursday, April 24th, 2008 @ 7:02am » permalink

Restrained - s/tThe debut EP from California's Restrained (on Glory Kid Records) blows through six concise tracks of furious metallic hardcore in about 11 minutes. For the most part it's fairly standard, 90's-inspired metallic hardcore based around chunky power chords and traditional hardcore runs given that heavier edge, with a few forays into darker musical influences with some slower breaks or clean runs – which, when combined with the harshness of the screamed/yelled vocals, definitely lends a certain dingy kind of His Hero is Gone aesthetic to the material. And lyrically it's a pretty even mix of the personal and political, which also makes sense given the combination of hardcore/punk influences swirling around in the mix. They're certainly not rewriting the book here, but I don't give two shits about that. The writing and recording are absolutely solid, and they're very good at what they do, so… I'm all for it. Not bad at all, and I'll be curious to see where these cats head in the future…

Restrained "November 17th"

The 7" is limited to 500 copies with screenprinted covers and inserts, so… vinyl junkies rejoice, heh.

Purchase:

@ Glory Kid Records

Lurker of Chalice "s/t" CD

Posted on Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008 @ 7:04am » permalink

Lurker of Chalice - s/tStrange that a copy of the Southern Lord reissue of the self-titled 2005 debut from one-man black metal "legend" Wrest's Lurker of Chalice project showed up in my mailbox just days after I posted about Leviathan's "Massive Conspiracy Against All Life", the comments for which ended up containing numerous mentions of this album. And I have to say, while it's "rumored" (I suppose) that "Massive Conspiracy Against All Life" was going to be a Lurker of Chalice album at one point, I just don't see much of a connection here, and must disagree with those who feel that "Massive Conspiracy…" should've been released under the Lurker of Chalice banner. Sure, there are similarities in terms of some of the sneering vocal work and faster, more Leviathan-esque black metal runs, but here those chord progressions are even more twisted and mangled, bending and churning in an even more severe and tormented manner (if you can imagine). And not that Leviathan's work is one-sided at all, but this is so obviously far more diverse! Take for example the unexpectedly dingy, sludgy, crawlingly paced doom of "Minions". Not to mention the more prominent, melodically throbbing basslines; tactful synth melodies; droning, melodic yet abstract lead lines; or similarly droning, chant-like appearances of not-exactly-singing that creep into play throughout the compositions. Everything just feels a bit more vast and experimental, with a good amount of obscurely layered guitar work that often creates cascading waves of ambient texture as opposed to tangible "riffs", as well as the occasional presence of samples (which are also quite efficiently employed). I'm honestly not entirely sure you could truly classify this as "black metal", though most seem to, as the parallels are quite far from clear-cut. It's just an entirely different beast from Leviathan… it really is.

Things do start off a little slowly with a less-than-stellar two-minute instrumental, so I was initially very uncertain as to how I'd feel about this album, but within five to 10 minutes it was clear that this is yet another admirable piece of work from Wrest. And yet again I'm quite late to the game in discovering an appreciation for what his output has to offer.

I'm only posting one song, so keep in mind that this is but a small representation of the album as a whole:

Lurker of Chalice "Spectre as Valkerie Is"

This reissue also contains a bonus track, "Wail", previously only available on the out of print 2xLP edition of the album, making for a total of 10 tracks in 68 minutes. And here's where I complain about trivial details, but I have to point out that I find it incredibly irritating that there's absolutely no mention of the bonus track on the CD's digipack presentation whatsoever. Especially since the bonus track appears smack in the middle of the tracklist (it's the seventh of the 10 songs). It wasn't until I looked up the album in the iTunes store, where it just happened to be, that I saw the complete track listing and had my suspicions as to the bonus track's location confirmed. Relatively minor details, I know, but that kind of shit still bugs me, because it's just stupid, you know!?

Nonetheless, I think this puppy used to go for absolutely obscene prices on eBay, so… now it's back in print and more widely available at no extra cost. Pick it up if you like what you hear.

Purchase:

@ Southern Lord
@ The End Records
@ Relapse Records
@ Amazon.com (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)

The Joy Formidable "s/t"

Posted on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008 @ 7:04am » permalink

The Joy Formidable - s/tI'm not sure if this is to be considered some sort of demo or an EP or what (technically this isn't a true "release", the band just has the three songs available for download on their MySpace page), but I got an email from The Joy Formidable a few weeks ago, and upon checking out their material I was immediately blown away. What's odd about that is that the UK trio's somewhat peculiar niche isn't exactly what I'm normally known for listening to – that is to say there's nothing even remotely metal- or hardcore-esque about this music in the least – but I simply can't deny a good song, and every single one of these tracks is just fuckin' great. I have absolutely no idea how the majority of the world would classify this stuff (hell, even the band just tags it "Other/Other/Other" on MySpace), but there's a little bit of punk-ish indie rock to the tonality and catchiness of the songwriting, though the overall vibe kind of has that Interpol-ish contemporary new wave thing going on (And I just use Interpol as a loose reference point there since they're sort of a benchmark, you know?), it's just more upbeat and memorable as opposed to relying on the darker and more subdued side of things (though there is a certain somber air in there, too). I don't know, it's just excellent material, and I totally can't wait to hear more from this band. It won't be for everyone as far as the readership of this site's concerned, but I know a number of you will appreciate it as I do. Awesome.

The Joy Formidable "Austere"

Download all three tracks from The Joy Formidable's MySpace page.

Arsis "We are the Nightmare" CD

Posted on Monday, April 21st, 2008 @ 7:46am » permalink

Arsis - We are the Nightmare"We are the Nightmare" is the Nuclear Blast debut from the alfuckingmighty Arsis, a band that I've absolutely adored for a little over four years now, ever since I first saw them live prior to the release of "A Celebration of Guilt". No matter what, Arsis can do no wrong, and is without question one of the finest metal bands active today. From a songwriting standpoint this material is probably a hint stronger than that of "United in Regret", recapturing more of the energy, catchiness, and just utterly fucking badass, mindblowingly technical flashiness of the riffing from their debut full-length. It definitely took me a few minutes to get used to the recording, though, I must say. I listen to 95% of my music in headphones, which certainly helps in this case (both for capturing the full effects of the layering and complexity, and in terms of the mix), but it seems like every time I throw this album on, it sounds really thin for a minute or two, and then thickens up if I increase the volume a bit and give it a few minutes to settle in. I'm not sure why the hell that is, though!? There's definitely some "…And Justice for All" happening to a degree in terms of the basslines (they're too damn hard to hear), and I think the drums could probably fall back a smidge, but… I dunno, maybe those two tweaks would've done the trick 100%? Or maybe it's just me? I don't know… fuck it. 'Cause the songs and the playing are fuckin' superb, as expected. Always. You'll be hard pressed to find better solos anywhere else in contemporary metal, not to mention the fact that half the time the rhythms are as fucked up and complicated as solos in Arsis' work anyway! I just love this god damn band, man. And trust me, the three songs they've placed on MySpace thus far are certainly not the best that this album has to offer. There's ripping greatness aplenty. But I don't want to give away anything that they don't already have out there for promotion, so… just think of this as a teaser for what the full album has to offer, as it definitely gets better from here!

Arsis "We are the Nightmare"

The physical CD's packaging is the band's best yet (the metallic bronze foil outline on the front cover's logo is slick as shit), and comes with a bonus "making of" DVD – which is really more comedic footage of the band fiddling around in the studio and "behind the scenes" during the recording than anything (and at less than an hour in length did leave me wanting more). Though it does prove in a few brief moments that the band's new guitarist, Ryan Knight, is just as much of a badass shredding lunatic as band leader Jim "The Fucking Man" Malone. Impressive.

And don't download this shit for free, fuckers. Please support these guys if you're a fan, 'cause they really, truly fucking deserve it, okay?

Purchase:

@ Nuclear Blast
@ The End Records
@ Relapse Records
@ eMusic (mp3)
@ iTunes (mp3)

The. Greatest.

Posted on Friday, April 18th, 2008 @ 11:26pm » permalink

I couldn't resist. I just randomly found this, and cannot fucking believe there's a video for it. I've seriously worshiped this song since I was 9 years old. One of the greatest 80's rock/pop songs ever written, from by far the greatest movie ever made:

Fucking unbelievable.

When I was a kid I held a tape recorder up to the TV and recorded all the songs from this movie onto a tape and listened to it in my walkman while I rode my shitty old BMX bike around my neighborhood. Totally classic! Ha, ha…

Slow week… (for posts).

Posted on Wednesday, April 16th, 2008 @ 12:51pm » permalink

I had a busy weekend and didn't get any reviews written, and this week is shaping up to be similar, so… I probably won't be posting anything new to check out until Monday. Hopefully next week will be pretty much back to normal, though.

In the meantime, here's one of the greatest B-grade glam metal songs ever:

(Can't remember if I've ever posted this one before or not… granted only three people will actually like it.)

Random? Absolutely…

Assück "Anticapital" CD

Posted on Friday, April 11th, 2008 @ 5:44am » permalink

Assück - AnticapitalThough fairly "legendary", I feel like Florida's Assück doesn't get talked about all that much anymore in terms of influence, or just how incredible they were in general, etc. Perhaps it's because so few grindcore bands have since matched their overall quality in terms of riffs/songwriting, or truly touched upon their otherwise brilliant fusion of death metal and hardcore/grind, I don't know. Admittedly I had forgotten just how killer this material was myself until earlier this week, when I pulled out their discs for the first time in years to throw 'em on the ol' iPod. "Anticapital" in particular (released on CD with bonus tracks in 1992 by Sound Pollution) really stands the test of time as an absolute masterpiece of sheer socio-political brutality. The album itself tears through 17 tracks in just 15 minutes and 18 seconds, with not one song hitting the two-minute mark. The thick-as-fuck guitar tone is perfect for the twisted and mangled pinch harmonics and subtly groovy Cannibal Corpse- or early Gorguts-styled riffing (similarities no doubt helped along by the Scott Burns production values); the drums are tight 'n' technical with plenty of raging blasts and flowing grooves that follow the guitar work; and the vocals are super burly without sounding the least bit goofy. It's just an incredible release on every level, with powerful tunes and a sense of urgency/energy extremely uncommon for grindcore – as is the sincerity of their message, which is delivered in a more intriguing and creative manner than your typically bland "politics". Now I'm actually somewhat pissed off that I haven't been rockin' this shit on a regular basis all this time!

Assück "Socialized Crucifixion"
Assück "State to State"
Assück "Page by Page"

I want to do everything yet I sit and do nothing. All that say, says nothing at all. Does mere existence truly justify itself? Optional in your world of confusion, powerless in my world of frustration. You seem to laugh, I sit and cry. In this world we all lose to the politics of lies.

Purchase:

@ Sound Pollution

Reign Supreme "American Violence" CD

Posted on Thursday, April 10th, 2008 @ 6:52am » permalink

Reign Supreme - American ViolenceYet another killer new release from Malfunction/Deathwish is the "American Violence" EP from Philadelphia's Reign Supreme, which busts out five concisely focused tracks of perfect metallic hardcore in just 12 minutes. I don't entirely know what to say, 'cause this is textbook stuff here, with straightforward song structures; furious vocals; fast-paced power chords with some traditional hardcore influences; powerful, crunchy midpaced breaks; and just the right amount of groove. They're not trying to rewrite the book, and that's fine by me, 'cause every song's a keeper and they god damn sure leave you wanting more. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? In fact, pretty much the only thing that could've made this CD any better would've been if they'd tossed some bonus tracks from the band's prior work on at the end, 'cause I wasn't familiar with these cats beforehand (I'm "out of the loop", what can I say?), and it appears that their prior releases were all on vinyl. Fuck it, though. This is great shit and I can't wait to see a full-length hit the streets. What more can be said?

Reign Supreme "Iscariot"

Purchase:

@ Malfunction/Deathwish (CD)
@ Malfunction/Deathwish (7")

Slaxxmaal "Reality Check…" 7"

Posted on Wednesday, April 9th, 2008 @ 7:14am » permalink

Slaxxmaal - Reality Check: Ansiktet Ditt er en Personlig FornærmelseAvailable from Lyderhorn Records, though I don't think it's an "official" Lyderhorn release, "Reality Check: Ansiktet Ditt er en Personlig Fornærmelse" is the first vinyl output from Norwegian grinders Slaxxmaal – tearing through 19 songs in just six minutes. And this is without a doubt some of the most "serious" grindcore you will ever hear in your life, from their extremely "in tune" and "accurate" cover of the Misfits' "Some Kinda Hate", to the numerous six-second outbursts of not at all noisy, never chaotic grind mayhem. There's nary a shred of humor or lightheartedness here. Nah. Sarcasm? Huh? Forget the fact that song titles like "Vet du Ka? Du e så Stygg at eg må Spy Opp Ting eg Allerede Har Drete ut, du Stygge Stygge Umenneske (Eg Spyr så Jævli at Driten Blir Sugt Opp av Dass og Inn i Ræven og Gjennom Fordøyelseskanalen og ut Kjeften, så Jævlig Spyr eg av Det Stygge Trynet Ditt)" are almost always longer than the songs themselves. But in all seriousness, there is a rather badass layout, with absolutely killer looking cover art and a slew of collaged photos inside of the band practicing, in the studio, or just hanging around – all creating the illusion that they take themselves much more seriously than they do. This is further evidenced by the crude little xeroxed insert for the lyrics (which, like the titles, are all in Norwegian), hand-numbered out of 300 copies and complete with random artwork such as little hairy penis drawings and other "high-brow" doodlings. I'm guessing that there's an absolute wealth of hilarity to be found herein, but without speaking a shred of Norwegian much of it's lost for me. But that doesn't mean I can't appreciate that it's there!

Slaxxmaal "En Kjekk og Grei Liten Pre-skrevet Anmeldelse av Denne Platen du Hører på nå, Slik at du Slipper å Anstrenge Deg Mer Enn Høyst Nødvendig Når du Skal Fortelle de Støgge tjommiene Dine Hvor Drit Skiten Er"
Slaxxmaal "Eg Skrev en Bok/Some Kinda Hate"

Purchase:

@ Lyderhorn Records

Incarnate "Embrace the Horror" CD

Posted on Monday, April 7th, 2008 @ 5:40am » permalink

Incarnate - Embrace the Horror"Embrace the Horror" is the debut full-length release from Dutch metalcore act Incarnate (on Demons Run Amok Entertainment), and the band seems to have beefed up and branched out a bit since the days of their first EP, "A Dark Age of Lies". Expect super burly vocals over dense, chugging guitars and throbbing bass with a good amount of tempo changes – from crushing midpaced breakdowns to some of that H8000 sounding tremolo picking. There's definitely a pretty significant metal influence happening, with bits and pieces borrowed from both thrash and death metal, but most of those influences tend to come through that 90's European metalcore filter, with an over the top kind of Arkangel edge, and maybe a little All Out War thrown in as far as similarities to any American bands from that particular niche. Where Incarnate succeeds, however, is that they keep things moving. The album's a consistent whole, but it's not a one-sided listen, and with 10 tracks in a little over a half-hour they tend to trim the fat and keep pushing forward, so there's a certain sense of energy and focus that a lot of these bands lack. The performances are also fairly solid, the recording's nice and crisp (Sweet acoustic instrumental in "Marching Into…"!), etc. There's still room for improvement here and there (the guitar solos are actually pretty fuckin' cool, I'd like to hear 'em a bit more often, really), but things are coming along nicely for these guys, and they're honing in on an aptly fierce sound that's rooted in the glory days of Europe's metallic hardcore scene.

Incarnate "Abandoned"

I'm not seeing this one around in US distros yet, but you can try to contact the band and/or label at the links above for more information on that, and I bet you can probably pick up copies from the band for a reasonable rate and get them within a fair amount of time, too.

Purchase:

@ Demons Run Amok Entertainment
@ Filled With Hate

Work sucks. And so does the flu…

Posted on Friday, April 4th, 2008 @ 4:21pm » permalink

I've been sick and incredibly busy lately, so I haven't been able to get much done in the way of reviews. Hopefully I'll get a little more caught up next week.

But I did get an email the other day from my man Erik, formerly of Digital Metal (R.I.P.), about his new site, Teeth of the Divine, so check that out. It's all new, so it's still growing, but there's already a good amount of news, reviews, interviews, a blog, and plenty more to come. Slick layout, too!

Trash Talk "Plagues… Walking Disease" CD

Posted on Thursday, April 3rd, 2008 @ 6:36am » permalink

Trash Talk - Plagues... Walking DiseaseThe "Plagues… Walking Disease" CD (on Malfunction/Deathwish) combines the recently released "Plagues…" 7" with last year's "Walking Disease" 7"/CD from Sacramento, CA's Trash Talk. I wasn't familiar with this band prior to checking out this material, but they basically blaze straight through cut after cut of blisteringly fast-paced metallic hardcore with a little smidge of that grinding sort of powerviolence edge happening thanks to the sheer speed and blasting aggression present throughout. There's not a ton of metal in there, but they do offer up a great range of cohesive influences throughout, from straightforward old school-infused hardcore to some churning thrashiness, pounding midpaced breaks with some killer bass runs, and an overall sense of fierce, explosive energy – especially the maniacally screamed/yelled/shouted vocals, which are pretty fuckin' intense. And when I say that they blaze straight through, I'm not kidding: Few compositions top the minute mark, and most of those don't even hit a minute-and-a-half, so despite the collection's misleadingly lengthy 17-song tracklist, everything's over and out in just about 14 minutes. The listen is 100% consistent from start to finish, so it sounds like all of these tracks were recorded in the same session, but I'm not sure since there's no recording information or anything like that in the booklet – but it does fold out into a six-panel "poster" full of completely badass artwork, and all of the lyrics are on the flip side. Good stuff. That's all there is to it…

Trash Talk "Lepers to Feed the Lepers"
Trash Talk "Walking Disease"

Purchase:

@ Malfunction/Deathwish

Leviathan "Massive Conspiracy Against All Life" CD

Posted on Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008 @ 7:10am » permalink

Leviathan - Massive Conspiracy Against All LifeThere has been much drama and speculation surrounding the release of "Massive Conspiracy Against All Life", the third proper full-length from San Francisco's infamous one-man black metal outfit Leviathan, but I have little interest in such nonsense, so dig around elsewhere if you'd care to read about such topics. The long-awaited album was finally released last week by Moribund Records, and that's all that really matters: The music. Granted, I was very late to become a Leviathan fan, and in fact simply did not care for much of what I had heard from the project prior to a few years ago. I'm not sure if it was the production values or the actual material itself, but while I admittedly never really cared for the "Tentacles of Whorror" album (and honestly haven't really revisited it since its release, though I should), I did eventually discover an appreciation for Leviathan's full-length debut, "The Tenth Sub Level of Suicide", and some of Wrest's split material.

Similarly, the first few minutes of "Massive Conspiracy Against All Life" found me uncertain, and I think it was just that my ears needed to adjust to the peculiarities of the tones and the mix, because as I settled into the second and third tracks I became more and more intrigued by the entire affair: The overall quality and diversity of the riffing, the chaotically arranged yet relatively precisely delivered drumming, the occasional presence of numerous forms of windy, howling dark ambient tones (to varying degrees of prominence), etc. With seven tracks in just over an hour's time it doesn't take a math wiz to determine that these are relatively long-winded compositions, but even with the majority of the tracks running from eight to 13 minutes, there's so much layering and directional twisting and turning going on that there's little room for boredom. Take for example the unexpected foray into eerie dark ambient hums, subtly melodic volume swells, faint bass runs, and indecipherable vocals towards the end of "Made as the Stale Wine of Wrath". But such frequent shifts and variations are actually employed incredibly efficiently within the grand scheme of the complete compositions/the album as a whole, with an obviously significant level of thought behind the way the transitions rise, fall, and progress throughout.

If you've heard any of Leviathan's past efforts at all you'll know that plenty of the staples of the black metal genre are to play a significant role, and Wrest's take on said elements are still prominent on this recording: Speed, discordant tremolo picking, fucked up chord phrasings and sliding/bending riffs, muddled vocal sneers fighting forth from the core of the mix… But herein even the more "straightforward" and relentlessly aggressive pieces, such as the hammering "Receive the World", are accented with surprises – such as the droning lead melodies tucked away in the distance before the track sinks into a spacious clean riff enveloped by more strangely melodic ambient textures, resonant percussive thuds, and heavily obscured vocal whispers as it draws to a close. You won't find me gushing empty praise for Leviathan's work, but I have to confess that I'm a bit of a convert here, as I never "got it" years ago, but now that I do… it's plain to see that the musicianship and vision at work here really do put to shame so many of the other "renown" one-man "USBM" acts out there – to the point where at least a few of them should feel rather embarrassed, really. This is quite a powerful album, and I think it'll take a few listens to truly begin digesting it as a whole.

Leviathan "Made as the Stale Wine of Wrath" (excerpt)

Purchase:

@ Moribund Records
@ The End Records
@ Relapse Records