Stille Opprör "S.o2" CD

Posted on Friday, May 30th, 2008 @ 6:45am » permalink

Stille Opprör - S.o2Stille Opprör is the solo project from former In the Woods… guitarist Christer Cederberg, and "S.o2" is the outfit's second album (soon to be released by Norway's Karmakosmetix Records), though I had never even heard of the band prior to this, and had no idea what to expect when I first popped the disc in. In fact, I had absolutely no idea there was an In the Woods… connection until I actually sat down to put this write-up together. As you'll hear below, this isn't the type of thing that I'd normally cover, and I'm not even sure what the hell I'd call this stuff, but great music is great music, and there's something about this material that sucked me in right away. The album's mere seven tracks stretch on through 42 minutes and tend to be centered around smooth, fluid singing over a vast array of acoustic and electric guitars and subtle electronic textures and effects (in addition to the rhythm section, of course) – creating a somewhat laidback and chilled out form of alternative/experimental rock that I can't really compare to anything that I've heard before (which is certainly not a bad thing). It's fairly dark and emotional, though – just not in any kind of overbearing manner, if that makes any sense? I don't know, the album is said to be "inspired by many influences, from Americana sounds and progressive rock to pop and even jazz", which does sort of make sense to me (strangely enough, seeing as I don't particularly listen to any of those types of music for the most part), but… when all is said and done it's all about quality, you know? If music moves me in some way, I'll listen to it, I don't give a shit what "classification" it falls under, and this is just a great fuckin' album. Hopefully others will find it as interesting as I do…

Stille Opprör "L Tune"

This one should be officially released any day now, but if you're interesting in picking it up, you can already pre-order it from The End Records, so… that's good stuff.

Purchase:

@ The End Records

Melencolia Estatica "Letum" CD

Posted on Thursday, May 29th, 2008 @ 6:00am » permalink

Melencolia Estatica - Letum"Letum" is the sophomore full-length from excellently melodic and atmospheric Italian black metal act Melencolia Estatica (released by ATMF), a band that I had never heard of prior to this, and have had a bit of a hard time digging up information on. It appears that this is actually a one-woman project, as Climaxia is the only member I can find mention of anywhere online, but whatever the case, these five tracks in 37 minutes are quite impressive all around. From the standard though far better than average uses of blazing speed and tremolo picking alongside fierce percussive blasts, to the throbbing basslines pulsing away in the distance at all times, and of course the absolutely ferocious vocal screams. But the real highlights are the more blatantly melodic riffs, which follow that cold, creeping sort of aesthetic and occasionally cave in to (or layer in against) resonant clean guitars. I mean, there are just some fucking incredible riffs throughout this album, which just intensifies the sense of feeling and emotion already present here in a massive way. But shit, even the fast-paced tremolo picking runs often possess far more surging force and feeling than the vast majority of black metal that I encounter, which is precisely what makes bands like this instantly jump out at you. The performances are all quite tight, but the basically perfect recording brings in just the right amount of the types of dry rawness and subtly "crude" aesthetics you'd expect (and, quite frankly, demand) from such work. It's really fucking dense, though – in large part due to the absolutely oppressive bass tone – which adds something to the overall impact and delivery. Very nice. The entire album superbly blends explosive rage and tactful depression in a manner that certainly leaves me looking forward to more. Well done…

Melencolia Estatica "Letum IV"

Purchase:

@ ATMF
@ The End Records

Turning Point/No Escape split 7"

Posted on Wednesday, May 21st, 2008 @ 12:01am » permalink

Turning Point/No Escape - splitI'm going on vacation tomorrow, so I'm gonna keep this one kinda short since most of the people reading this are probably already familiar with these bands, and if not, you can look 'em up on Google for background information and all that jazz. I figure I haven't gushed about New Jersey in awhile, so… both of these bands were from New Jersey, and this is without question the greatest split ever released in the history of mankind. No fucking question. I believe the 7" was originally released in 1991 on Temperance Records, and then it was reissued on CD years later (plus all of the tracks have appeared on various other CD releases over the years, from which I've ripped them for this post). Every fucking song is complete and total mastery on every level: Two of Turning Point's best songs ever (I don't give a fuck what anyone says, their more "emo" sounding stuff was the shit), as well as two of No Escape's finest (although their most golden tune, the unfuckwithable "Silenced", was on the "Rebuilding" compilation in 1990, along with another of Turning Point's unforgettable gems, "Broken", ironically enough). I can't get enough of this shit, and totally flipped over both these bands the first time I heard these four songs:

1. Turning Point "Thursday"
2. Turning Point "Behind This Wall"
3. No Escape "Framework"
4. No Escape "Guilty"

Seriously. Best. Split. Ever. I'm not fucking kidding…

This is of course out of print, but you can grab this shit on CD for less than a buck at Amazon right now, 'cause people are dumbasses and there are actually those out there who would rather listen to three-chord old school hardcore than some jams with actual fucking feeling (not to mention legitimate musical value). Go figure…

Purchase:

@ Amazon.com

Karloff "The Nightmare"

Posted on Tuesday, May 20th, 2008 @ 6:59am » permalink

Karloff - The Nightmare"The Nightmare" is the debut EP from Indiana trio Karloff, which offers up five short tracks in just five short minutes. The band states that they formed "with the intentions of combining a range of genres that include grind, hardcore, and black metal", and I'd say that's fairly accurate, surprisingly enough. For the most part their approach is one reminiscent of straight up drum machine grind with little hints of power violence explosiveness and vocal assaults thrown in for good measure, but there are indeed some scathing dissonant runs that have a black metal kind of vibe going on – often combined with a strange sense of blazing hardcore, no less. The material's a little rough around the edges (the mix could be a hint more balanced, etc.), but the bass presence is fuckin' great, the overall aesthetic of the production values is solid, and the songwriting is definitely fucking promising. Oh, and I have to mention that their artwork is totally fuckin' badass, too. Not just the cover art, but some of the designs and illustrations on their MySpace page as well. If they ever make t-shirts they're sure to have some of the best looking merch out there. Good stuff. So the whole shebang's fairly strong, especially for a band that's only been together for a few months at this point!

Karloff "Eternal Ruin"

If you like what you hear, the EP's available for free download from the band's MySpace page or using the link below:

[DOWNLOAD] Karloff "The Nightmare"

Ketha "III-ia" CD

Posted on Monday, May 19th, 2008 @ 6:54am » permalink

Ketha - III-iaDebello Recordings seems to be an incredibly interesting and respectable label (not to mention an underrated one), as the Oklahoma-based enterprise boasts a killer visual aesthetic and an impressive roster of international bands that often seem to operate in this oddly top-shelf realm of chaotic and twisted metal/metalcore/whatever the fuck you want to call it. "III-ia", the debut full-length from Poland's Ketha, is the second such example I've encountered from the label – its eight tracks in just 32 minutes exploring a wide range of mangled riffing tactics and structural twists and turns rooted in an intense rhythmic foundation that occasionally brings to mind an infinitely more organic and dingily-textured Meshuggah, or even the math metal surges of the the almighty (and obscure) Eisenvater. It's just a really peculiar outing all around, spicing up the aforementioned rhythmic backbone with subtly jazzy drum work, gnashing chord phrasings and note combinations, noisy effects and clashing textures, and a variety of sparse vocal tactics that all tend to be relatively subdued within the mix. You could also compare certain moments to Gorguts with more breathing room, as if they were an Amphetamine Reptile act or something like that. It sounds bizarre, and it is… but in a good way! I feel stupid throwing out so many weird little loose comparisons that don't really make much sense on paper, but… trust me, I think you'll understand what I'm trying to get at when you hear this shit, and hopefully you'll see why it's so hard to get across what these cats are doing with words, ha. There's just something really fucked up and cool about this material, and I really respect that. Very curious, indeed.

Ketha "Izoid"

Purchase:

@ Debello Recordings

Another band needs label: Abraxis

Posted on Sunday, May 18th, 2008 @ 8:25am » permalink

AbraxisAbraxis is a new metallic hardcore band from Australia that, not unlike the mighty Rot in Hell from the UK, is all about cranking out some straight up fucking no joke "holy terror" worship right outta the classic Cleveland handbook. The fact that the opening track of their 2008 demo, "War With God", is called "Mic Check" is more than a slight homage to Integrity (specifically "Vocal Test", obviously), as are the "Melnick-ian leads"™ and fiery power chord breaks employed throughout. Shit, the first half of "Waiting for the End" even follows the approach of Dwid's Roses Never Fade project, while the closing moments of "What the Fuck…" (and the demo itself) explore some of the quiet clean guitars and experimental noise textures heard in a few of Integrity's old split 7" tracks and whatnot, so… literally all the bases are being covered, ha! But all this shit is dead on, man. And all the more impressive considering the entire demo was written and recorded by one dude, who didn't solidify a full lineup for the band until after the fact. Sure, there are bits and pieces of the recording and the mix that need a little polishing up, but this a damn solid effort all things considered, and the fucking songs don't play around, so… I'm definitely looking forward to hearing more from this band already.

Abraxis "Destined to Fire"

The entire demo is available for free download, so grab it below if you like what you hear (and I have a feeling a lot of you will):

[DOWNLOAD] Abraxis "War With God"

And if anyone reading this is interested in releasing something by these cats, or knows someone else who might be, please either pass the word along or get in touch with the band on MySpace. Long live the "holy terror" resurgence!

Accu§er "Repent" CD

Posted on Friday, May 16th, 2008 @ 12:15am » permalink

Accu§er - RepentI don't know a ton about Accu§er (who I got into a few years ago and found to have been pretty damn underrated over the years), but I've been listening to a shitload of relatively obscure thrash lately, so in keeping with last week's Friday post, here's another overlooked thrash gem – this time from late in the game as the genre's heyday was dying out. Accu§er was formed in Germany in 1986 and released their debut full-length the following year. "Repent", released in 1992, was their fourth album, and represents a subtle stylistic shift for the band, as former frontman Eberhard Weyel left the band prior to the recording and guitarist Frank Thoms took over on vocals. The fact that his vocal style is significantly burlier (some would say more "hardcore"-ish), so the music on this album follows suit accordingly, makes it not exactly the best representation of what Accu§er had to offer as a whole (their first vocalist was admittedly stronger, for example), but… fuck it, 'cause this album offers up an absolutely awesome blend of meaty, midpaced, mosh-laden early-90's thrash with just the right amount of the quality riffing and vague technicality leftover from the late-80's plateau of thrash metal. As with many of the band's albums the mix is sadly off a bit since the drums are a bit up front and the guitars could use a little more presence, but the fucking guitar tone is so ridiculously heavy that they probably had to suppress the levels a bit to prevent the low-end from caving in on itself or something! I mean, the guitars sound like a blend between Exhorder's "The Law" (which came out the same year) and Earth Crisis' "Destroy the Machines" (which came out three years later, so I'm not making comparisons), which is pretty god damn perfect – especially considering the badass chugging 'n' churning that the riffs exhibit throughout. There are just some sick riffs in these tracks. Good stuff.

Accu§er "Sacrifice Machine"
Accu§er "Get Saved"

And, again, like last week, I cannot find this fucking CD for sale anywhere. Very strange, as you'd sort of think this would be one of those discs you could easily grab for a buck or two here and there since so many diehard thrash fanatics would probably deem it "too slow" or "too hardcore". Not the case, apparently. So, you know… I don't think there's any other choice but to use Google if you wanna rock some more obscure tunes. Go figure…

If anyone has any obscure thrash favorites of their own to recommend, please do post a comment or shoot me an email.

Omega Massif "Geisterstadt" CD

Posted on Thursday, May 15th, 2008 @ 6:13am » permalink

Omega Massif - GeisterstadtWhen I wrote about the incredibly promising limited edition demo from Germany's Omega Massif two years ago, I stated that "I certainly hope at least one of those makes it into the hands of an interested label, because this band could do some serious damage with this shit if they find the right home". Well, it would seem that my wish was granted after all, as the killer French label Radar Swarm issued their first full-length, " Geisterstadt", awhile back and was kind enough to send me a copy recently. And much like their demo, these compositions tend to be relatively long (granted they max out at around 10 minutes now, as opposed to stretching out past the 15-minute mark) and centered around absolutely crushing surges of midpaced power chords or, by contrast, soft and spacious clean passages that often take on a more ambient sort of atmosphere. There are definitely a little more of those droning, brightly textured "post-rock" types of influences crawling into place these days, but thankfully the band utilizes those characteristics in a manner that seamlessly blends in against the powerful rhythmic backbone of their work and often transitions over into the dryer, darker clean passages, so they avoid the more tired implementations that so many other instrumental acts have been focusing on in the last few years. Hell, it sounds like they even bring in some accordion or something like that before the first explosive shift in "Nebelwand"!? There's just a really strong balance between that base heaviness and aggression and forceful (if somewhat obscured), moving melodies throughout, so I'll definitely still be looking forward to hearing more from these guys. Good stuff…

Omega Massif "Unter Null" (excerpt)

Purchase:

@ Radar Swarm
@ Crucial Blast

Wrnlrd "Pentagon" CD

Posted on Wednesday, May 14th, 2008 @ 6:57am » permalink

Wrnlrd - PentagonThe almost entirely instrumental "Pentagon" is by far the strangest release to date from Virginia's Wrnlrd, with five tracks essentially divided into five parts each (sans the one-part closer) – making for a 50-minute affair in which the disc is literally broken up into all 21 seamless tracks. For example, opener "Annuit Coeptis", which is among the shorter segments at just under six minutes, is actually made up of the tracks "Susurration of Cairn", "Agalma Manteia", "Veil & Rope", "Widow of Pain", and "Stone & Vapor" – which blend clashing, dissonant, sustained chords that fade into dark ambient textures with extremely faint samples or vague vocal work buried in the distance amidst the occasional drum hit or shimmery clean guitar work under warbled effects. Afterwards, the project's chaotically blasting black metal starts to filter into place, complete with a massive array of wildly gnashing layers of guitar riffs and textures, but the more experimental ambient side of Wrnlrd's work is never too far behind, as the latter segments even bring in some acoustic guitars (which are some of the most promising moments of the album, actually) over low-end howls after the piece slows down a good deal. This approach continues in the 16-minute "Shaft of Ba'al", even bringing in some banjo (!?) and twisted, noisy leads to the discordantly layered spirals of the composition. Heavily obscured vocals finally resurface midway through the 10-minute "Awakening", alongside a more blasting and ferocious musical backing more typical of the bulk of Wrnlrd's work, but again, things start to cave into a wall of twisted leads and noise before shifting into another chilling dark ambient throb.

In addition to the structure of the songs' delivery, the packaging is also rather intriguing, with a tri-level cover that includes some abstract printing on the outer jewel case and faint imagery printed on a square of semi transparent vellum overlaying a small, simple pentagonal shape that resides on the booklet itself. There's also some strange content hidden underneath the CD tray – the factorial of the number 21 (I didn't even know what the hell a factorial was until I Googled the number and looked it up). I have no idea what these mathematical relationships might reveal or have to do with the album (aside from there being 21 tracks), but Wrnlrd seems to now be making it clear that there's some sort of "master plan" at work behind the scenes, as his website has some other bizarre hints here and here. Perhaps there are only three more Wrnlrd releases slated before everything comes to an end?

Very strange… very strange. Curious, though… you can never be sure what's going to come next from this project. And despite areas that remain rough around the edges, you can't help but hold a great deal of respect for the creativity and mysterious obscurity of this type of work.

Wrnlrd "Death's White City" (excerpt)

Edit: A really interesting Wrnlrd interview just got posted at Pitchfork, if anyone's interested. It's down near the bottom of the page.

Purchase:

@ Wrnlrd

Unforgiven "Last of the Few" CD

Posted on Tuesday, May 13th, 2008 @ 6:56am » permalink

Unforgiven - Last of the FewSomeone posted a comment here and recommended Connecticut's Unforgiven to me some time ago, and I've been eagerly waiting for this shit to come out ever since. I don't think I've ever made a note to keep checking back on a band's MySpace page before to see when a release was finally out, but I did for "Last of the Few", which finally hit the streets a couple months ago thanks to Eightfold Path Records, it just took me until this weekend to realize it! I'm talking six tracks of absolutely perfect metallic hardcore in just 13 minutes. The band cites their influences as New York, Cleveland, and Connecticut hardcore, and that about says it, 'cause there's plenty of that chugging 90's style of NYHC in there alongside some driving midpaced Clevo rhythms and heavier tinges of a little straight-up old school styled hardcore – plus some unexpected little melodic flourishes to color things up just a bit and add some extra (tactful) variety. It's just hard, in your face, and pissed off, just how I like it… and the fact that they toss in some little Burn sounding riffs and shit, I mean, that's just bonus awesomeness as far as I'm concerned. Plus, they scored a great recording, so… there's not a damn thing missing. I'm all over this shit. Highly recommended, and I can't fucking wait to hear more from these cats…

Unforgiven "It's All Been Wasted"

When I bought the EP on Download Punk over the weekend the first song (posted above) was missing for some strange reason, but thankfully I noticed that the band had it posted on their MySpace page, so it all worked out. I just can't say enough good things about this material. I wish more bands could properly capture this style of hardcore these days…

Purchase:

@ Eightfold Path Records
@ Download Punk

Akaname "Filthlicker" CD

Posted on Monday, May 12th, 2008 @ 6:36am » permalink

Akaname - Filthlicker"Filthlicker" is the debut EP from New Zealand's Akaname on Debello Recordings, tearing through five tracks of intriguingly diverse and jarring metalcore in about 20 minutes. I've always been very picky when it comes to the more discordant and chaotic side of the "metalcore" realm, but there's something about these tracks that works very well. For one thing, the recording is nice and dense, and the vocals have a harsher and more aggressive tonality than the borderline irritating cackled screams and shrieks that often plague this niche of the genre, so there's a certain warmth and ferociousness going on that certainly adds to the overall impact. But they also tend to throw in a little more variety than usual as well, and without losing sight of transitions or the big picture of the songs' sense of feeling. So, while there are plenty of the expected quick shifts from chugging rhythmic fits to bursts of flurried notes, there are also some subtle samples and electronic noise textures beneath the surface, as well as some churning death metal-infused riffs – complete with warped pinch harmonics and thick, gnashing picking patterns that make for some surprisingly meaty moments. Much more interesting than the legions of bands out there tossing out fifth-rate Botch/Dillinger ripoffs, you know?

Akaname "The Garden Path"

Oddly enough the band's vocalist left shortly after the recording of this EP, and they've decided to carry on as an instrumental act, so… I guess we'll see how that plays out when their full-length hits the streets. Hopefully they won't lose any steam.

Purchase:

@ Debello Recordings
@ Interpunk

Razor "Shotgun Justice" CD

Posted on Friday, May 9th, 2008 @ 5:43am » permalink

Razor - Shotgun Justice"Shotgun Justice" was the sixth full-length from prolific, longstanding, and I assume legendary (Yeah?) Canadian thrashers Razor, originally released in 1990 on Fringe Records. It was their second to last record (they first called it quits in 1992, about a year after the release of "Open Hostility"), and in my opinion also their best. They did reform in 1997 and release a new full-length, "Decibels", however, they haven't put out anything since – though they did reform again in 2005, granted none of their old websites have been updated since late that year – so… who knows what's going on with 'em now!?

Anyway, in the interest of complete honesty, I had barely heard any Razor material prior to this week. I had sampled tracks here and there over the years, and they had always been one of those bands that I had wanted (and fully intended) to check out, but for whatever reason I never got around to it. Perhaps it's because their CD's are kind of a pain in the ass to find for reasonable prices, I don't know. But somehow or another (I have absolutely no idea how) I stumbled upon this video last week:

And, I mean… come on! It took me all of 10 fucking seconds to assure myself that it was mandatory that I finally check out some Razor albums immediately. That's gotta be one of the greatest fucking videos in the history of all living things, (probably) unintentional comedy gold or not. I could talk about the video for hours on its own. But let's face it, the fucking song rips, too.

So, "Shotgun Justice" was obviously my first choice. And yes, I'm kicking myself over the fact that Razor formed in fucking 1984 and it somehow took me 24 god damn years to fully experience their absolute brilliance. Here we have a whopping 14 tracks in just 39 minutes and 19 seconds, jam packed with generally fast (and, okay, with crunchy midpaced breaks aplenty) early-90's thrash with perfectly blunt song titles such as "Violence Condoned", "Brass Knuckles", and "Cranial Stomp", to name but a few. The vocals are 100% badass, too. I'm sure there's a legion of diehard Razor fans out there who would have my head for this since "Shotgun Justice" was the band's debut album with Bob Reid on vocals, but… I definitely prefer his Exodus-esque bitterness/subtle sarcasm to the band's former frontman, Stace "Sheepdog" McLaren (guitarist Dave Carlo has been their only consistent member throughout their history). What can I say?

And let's not forget the utterly fucking impeccable cover art (don't deny it) – one of Razor's many contributions to the archives of incredible metal album covers – or the classic fucking lyrics, man!

Pressure is building inside. Strengthening desire to kill. Tension rips through my veins. Increasing hardcore hatred, my will. Angered. I reach in my coat. My fingers find my weapon of brass. Planting my fist in your face. A violence fix, I'm kicking your ass. Punch out your lights. Fist fighting every night. Fractured your face. Left you a total disgrace…

Oh yeah, this band is the shit, my friends. Why the fuck haven't they gotten more blatant praise over the years, and why have these albums always been so damn hard to come by!? I just don't get it…

Razor "Shotgun Justice"
Razor "Brass Knuckles"
Razor "Stabbed in the Back"

I honestly can't find this damn CD for sale anywhere (sans the one used copy on Amazon.com for fucking $120, which is just plain stupid), nor are the songs on iTunes or whatever. But, if you want to enjoy some undeniably raging thrash metal from a band that seems to have gotten somewhat of a raw deal over the last few decades, well, you can find the tracks out there. I don't usually support that kind of thing, but… what else can you do, you know?

ASRA "The Way of All Flesh" CD

Posted on Thursday, May 8th, 2008 @ 7:03am » permalink

Asra - The Way of All FleshThe Black Box Recordings-released debut full-length from NYC's ASRA (Alleged Satanic Ritual Abuse) tears through 11 tracks of completely and totally fucking badass death metal-infused grind in a mere 22 minutes. Legendary bands like Assück, Napalm Death, Man is the Bastard, and Discordance Axis seem to get thrown around frequently in press materials related to ASRA, and I actually can't argue with that at all. From the blasting, super tight drumming to the thick riffs that balance tactful speeds and intense grooves, or the maniacal vocals that shift effortlessly from burly growls to fierce sneers, snarls, or shrieks, it's all here, and it all fucking rules. The songwriting's memorable without lacking a shred of intensity, the recording's gritty and textured but still forceful and crisp… I mean, shit, it's just everything anyone should ever want out of a grindcore record. Even the cover art is fucking great! I can't speak to the lyrical content because the promo didn't come with lyrics, but judging from the song titles I'd say there's nothing to worry about in that department either. So, yeah… fucking perfection. I love it.

ASRA "Human Construct"

This one's available on both CD and vinyl, but I don't think the CD pressing is out just yet (though it should be available within the next few days). However, it looks like the limited edition clear vinyl pressing comes with a CD of the tracks or something like that, so… pick this shit up if you like what you hear. I'm already looking forward to hearing more from these cats.

Purchase:

@ Black Box Recordings
@ Relapse Records

Subrosa "Strega" CD

Posted on Wednesday, May 7th, 2008 @ 5:38am » permalink

Subrosa - StregaThe always quality I Hate Records recently dropped another extremely intriguing release – "Strega", the second full-length from Subrosa (whose limited edition debut is apparently now sold out). When I first popped the disc in I was immediately stricken by the band's curiously innovative approach to the types of eerie, sludgy, doom-laden atmospheres for which I Hate's roster is most known, and assumed they were probably from Sweden or the UK or something like that. Then I sit down to write this up and I come to find out they're actually from Salt Lake City, UT of all places, which somehow seems even stranger!? Whatever the case, a somewhat monotone (yet emotive) form of singing tends to be the focal point, blended against a foundation of relatively simple, stripped down "doom" riffs with that classic, fuzzed out tone and somewhat of a bluesy "old school doom" sort of backbone. However, they also utilize electric violin, and somehow layer textures together to create a lot of really unique droning effects that sort of bubble up amidst the background tones of the mix to thicken things up and create additional space within space, if that makes any sense. I hate to keep using words like "curious" and "intriguing" and "strange", but I assure you that I mean them all in a very complementary manner, as the peculiarities of Subrosa's approach are both admirable and inventive – keeping them in line with the general vibe of this type of genre while also separating them from the pack and creating an experimental sort of angle that effectively draws the listener in with nonstandard tactics that shun conventional expectations. For example, you'd often expect a band within this realm to be dealing with long, drawn out compositions, but the majority of these tracks are just two or three minutes each, and the title track is the only song that tops six minutes. I don't know what else to say, really. I just find this to be a really interesting album, and I hope some of you will feel the same and pick it up as a result.

Subrosa "Crucible"

Purchase:

@ The End Records

Empty "The Last Breath of My Mortal Despair" CD

Posted on Tuesday, May 6th, 2008 @ 6:55am » permalink

Empty - The Last Breath of My Mortal DespairI personally don't hear too much black metal from Spain, but when this re-release of "The Last Breath of My Mortal Despair", the most recent full-length from Empty, showed up in the mail from De Tenebrarum Principio I was immediately impressed. The first few minutes of the opening track alone shift from precisely the types of cold, dissonant, atmospheric riffs that I long for from the genre to plenty of warped tremolo picking and droning leads, spacious clean passages and ambient textures, powerful midpaced surges, and then some. Even when they break into an instance of the ferociously blasting speeds so typical of this style, they certainly don't remain there for very long. It's really interesting, because in many ways the general feeling of the album is what I tend to think of as "classic" black metal, but their approach really isn't very straightforward. It's neither overtly technical nor blatantly avant-garde, but they're definitely touching on those types of influences in a manner that's occasionally frenzied or dramatic, but without being particularly chaotic or over the top. Hell, you can actually hear the basslines and everything!

The band formed in 1995 and took four years to release their first demo, then another three for their debut full-length, so… with "The Last Breath of My Mortal Despair" having originally been released in 2005 by Blackened Moon Productions, it's obvious that – unlike many black metal bands – these guys are in no hurry to rush material out there. And that emphasis on quality over quantity damn sure pays off, because this is a cool record. Having never heard any of the band's prior work I can't speak to whether or not this album marked a significant shift in quality, but based on the strengths of this material I'm fairly surprised that I had never heard of Empty before.

Empty "The Horrible Drawing Back of the Veil"

Purchase:

@ ATMF
@ Moribund Records
@ Paragon Records

Lighthouse Project/Satura Lanx "Come to Accept" split 7"

Posted on Monday, May 5th, 2008 @ 6:54am » permalink

Lighthouse Project/Satura Lanx - Come to Accept - splitThis split 7" between two intriguing Finnish hardcore bands that I've written about here in the past (both of whom eschew the sheer brutality for which the Finnish scene is often known these days) came out last year as a split release between the Finnish labels Deaf Forever and Brown Records. Lighthouse Project kicks things off with three tracks of their generally fast-paced melodic hardcore with uniquely searing vocals that still manage to capture some feeling and melody to match the tone of the music. For the most part the song structures follow a straightforward path, but there are some shifts in tonality and pacing to keep things from stagnating. Satura Lanx then follows with two tracks of their own, which actually sound a little more straightforward and energetic this time out – not unlike the Lighthouse Project material, but with a subtly rocked out vibe buried underneath the pounding basslines and palm-muted melodic hardcore riffs. It's still a little dirtier and more aggressive overall, but they definitely seem to have focused their approach a bit, and the songs certainly deliver. This split actually marks Satura Lanx's final release, as they unfortunately called it quits late last year. It's only about a 12-minute record, but both bands serve up great tracks with no filler, so it's a damn enjoyable listen that continues to demonstrate that the Finnish hardcore scene has a lot of different styles to offer.

Lighthouse Project "Freezing to Death"
Satura Lanx "The Higher You Climb, the Harder You Fall"

I'm a little late in getting around to covering this one (Sorry, Samuli!), so the 7" is already sold out from both of the labels. Act fast if you're interested in getting your hands on a copy!

Purchase:

@ Surprise Attack Records

The Catalyst "Marianas Trench +9" CD

Posted on Friday, May 2nd, 2008 @ 6:55am » permalink

The Catalyst - Marianas Trench +9The latest release from The Catalyst – which is actually my first exposure to the band, despite the fact that they're from right here in Richmond, VA – is "Marianas Trench +9", released by The Perpetual Motion Machine. The disc collects their tracks from the "Marianas Trench" one-sided 12" EP, their split 12" with Mass Movement of the Moth, and their split 7" with the Brainworms, for a grand total of 13 songs in about 42 minutes. What's it like? Good question. Wacky song titles like "This Bike is a Gravity Bong", "Smoke Crack Worship Satan", and "Jesus Garcia", among others, might suggest a certain air of chaos or, well, humor, but… that's really not the case at all. The lyrics are actually quite serious and seamlessly fuse the personal with the political – or the political via the personal, etc. – and musically there's a hell of a lot going on, so they've really done a nice job of creating somewhat of an uncategorizable amalgamation of sounds.

There is a little bit of a chaotic thing happening to a degree, but part of that's simply due to the sheer variety of influences swirling around within the tracks, and how frequently they change things up. It's weird, but it's not necessarily all over the place or anything like that, there's definitely a sense of control. They effortlessly transition from tactfully abrasive noise rock into loose, quirky indie riffs; there's thick, grungy, fuzzed out rhythms and sludgy feedback aplenty; plus throbbing basslines and pounding, bashing percussion; while the vocals are generally lightly distorted shouts and screams. Hell, there are even some spacey post-rock types of passages happening, with lots of droning effects and noisescape "leads" that all sort of bleed into some kind of fucked up 70's prog rock vibe or something. Like I said, it's weird. The label has said, "Recommended for fans of Karp, Nirvana, Melvins, Pg.99, etc.", and I could see that. Oddly enough I can hear some Nirvana tucked away in there, just dirtier and more fucked up… which could explain the Melvins mention and such. I don't know, I think it's cool shit, so see what you think?

The Catalyst "This Bike is a Gravity Bong"
The Catalyst "Born With a Buzz"
The Catalyst "Three Ring Binder as Makeshift Monster"

I want to know what we think we are accomplishing. We're all just playing our roles. You'll make up reasons, I'll be left speechless. I think you're missing the point. You'll wash your hands of it, just like you always do. Parasites personified. Redefine the compromise. Paralyzed, internalized, stupefy, lobotomize. Ringworm in my stomach. You'd settle for less, you'd settle for nothing. Hands in your pockets, alert for alarm. There's no cause for alarm, no cause for alarm. Punch me in the face, please. Thank you. Found out early on, hate can be a useful thing. But I never found a use for it. Laugh first so no one can laugh at you. You and me, we'll never change, we'll only grow more cynical. Never quite together, but never far apart. I still think you're missing the point.

Purchase:

@ The Perpetual Motion Machine
@ Robotic Empire
@ RevHQ
@ iTunes (mp3)

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