Another month, and another series of motivationless weeks that find me scrambling to force myself to write about a batch of great music before even more time slips by. So, here we go, in alphabetical order...
It's hard to believe that it's already been three years since the superb It Will Come to You, but the forthcoming Acts of Worship seems to find Canadian post-punk outfit Actors heading in an increasingly sleek and synth-pop-tinged type of direction. Amazingly crisp and pristine production accentuates this dark, spacious approach led primarily by bass and keyboards. I wouldn't say that these songs are as immediately "catchy" as those of the prior album, but one cannot deny the cinematic construction of the compositions. There are so many subtle details to absorb, and it makes complete sense that the group has really started to make a name for themselves.
The full album's not out until October—once more through Artoffact Records—but you can already hear four songs and pre-order on CD or LP over at Bandcamp.
German death metal unit Aschenvater hit me up a week or so back and mentioned that they were inspired by the Warhammer 40,000 universe—which instantly brought to mind Bolt Thrower, of course—before going on to compare their sound to... yep, Bolt Thrower! But, also, Hail of Bullets, and any number of Swedish death metal classics. And, holy shit, that's exactly what they sound like! This is absolutely ripping death metal packed with crispy HM-2 distortion and powerful vocals that do indeed bring to mind that legendary Martin Van Drunen aesthetic. I personally don't care about Warhammer and don't even listen to that much contemporary death metal, but this shit is great. Energetic songwriting, strong riffs, solid production, just the right amount of occasional darkness/melody... fuck yeah. This project deserves far more attention!
The Last Stand
I'm rarely interested in traditional hardcore anymore, but I must admit that NYHC lifers The Last Stand continue to deliver the style extremely well. For their half of this recently released split with L.A.'s One Choice, chunky production highlights the economical songwriting by way of just the right dash of constant heaviness and some sick bass grooves. Yeah, they're two- to three-minute hardcore songs that keep things simple, but when shit's right, it's right, you know? They even close with a Minor Threat cover to boot!
Following a demo from 2018, Polish four-piece Moira issued their first album last month, and it offers some excellent crust-tinged melodic/metallic hardcore that's somewhat reminiscent of a less straightforward To What End? There are definitely some driving, to-the-point rhythms, but more of a loose, caustic edge to the delivery. They toss in a lot of unexpected influences, too—a few atmospheric segues, the occasional screamo lean, and even some djent-esque metalcore grooves on rare occasion. At its best, though, it's just fierce intensity that really hits hard. I'll be curious to hear more.
According to Discogs, Bi Polar exists on both CD and LP, but I'm having trouble finding physical copies for sale online, so I might have to message the band and see what's up. Otherwise, there are digital purchases on Bandcamp, and you can also hear the tunes through Spotify.
While at one point a bigtime Willowtip fan, I have to confess that I haven't had much awareness of what the label's been up to for the past five years or so. I suppose I'm just not listening to as much technical death metal these days. But, every now and then, something from that world crosses my path that still piques my interest. Minneapolis, MN trio Sunless is one such example. If "Forgotten (Remnants of Life)" is any indication, this is a brand of musically adept death metal built upon an Ulcerate meets Gorguts type of churning dissonance. It's not all about hyper speed, and doesn't fall victim to overly modern/unnatural production values. In fact, there's a warm ruggedness to the recording, and I absolutely love the plunky, well-defined bass tone! Great vocals, too—carrying sort of a pained desperation to the delivery that really sets them apart.
Only one song is available so far, with the full sophomore album out in late-October. That being said, you can go ahead and pre-order on CD, cassette, or LP via Bandcamp.
I first mentioned X. Kubrick in another roundup last December, and while the project is certainly worthy of its own post, it just keeps timing out that new material surfaces while I'm working on roundup pieces, so... here we are. For those unaware, this is a hip-hop outlet from Xavier Wilson—guitarist of Simulakra, Vicious Embrace, and I believe other such metallic hardcore acts—and it totally nails the gritty, '90s-inspired aesthetic that I tend to lean toward when it comes to this realm of my listening habits. Memorable chorus hooks, too. If I were to risk citing loose reference points, I'd say the tone and production value of Hell on Earth era Mobb Deep with occasional twists of Gravediggaz-esque darkness. (Vocally, however, I must clarify that the approach and character does not fit into those comparisons at all.) Fuckin' great cover art as well. This would look amazing as a 12", but that's probably not gonna happen since at this point vinyl wouldn't come back until 2025 or some shit. Regardless, I'm just psyched that he's churning out new material on a regular basis. Great work.