Random Roundup: December, 2023


It seems that Dome Runner is not the only excellent industrial outfit active in Finland at the moment. The debut full-length from Bunsen explores rugged and aggressive industrial that leans more toward the electronic side, but still carries a droning, metallic edge—even if a lot of its force is coming from percussive rhythms as opposed to chugging guitars. Great atmosphere, with nods to some classics (early Godflesh in "Halt Self," for example) without sounding too similar. A few tracks stray into full-on experimental noise, and I have to admit that I do start to lose interest during those moments (granted the compositions are well-executed, especially "Steel Wound"), but no big deal. The dominant approach is crushing, sinister industrial in fine form, and those aspects are certainly exciting enough to garner my approval!

Burner is limited to 200 copies on CD from the Kaos Kontrol Nega Mart, or you can grab CD or digital through Bandcamp. If you prefer to stream, find the album on Spotify, Apple Music, etc.

Locked in a Vacancy

I wrote about New York's Locked in a Vacancy several times over two decades ago, so it's very cool to see them back with their first new material in 17 years. And, honestly, this is probably their finest work to date, continuing what I guess you could call their interpretation of "progressive" metalcore. Take that early-2000s melodic death metalcore vibe and add shifts in tempo and atmospheric direction—jazzy clean passages, crushing grooves, subtle vocal diversity—plus meaningful lyrics that are neither too blunt nor overly vague. The performances are also tighter and presented with a stronger recording than I recall from their early work. Three full-on new cuts plus one that's more of an ambient/experimental interlude (a continuation of similar tracks from every prior release). Hell of a comeback. I'll be curious to hear what comes next!

...Before the Dawn is available on CD or cassette through Fuzz Therapy Records. Streamers can do so via Spotify or Apple Music or whatever else.

Neighboring Sounds

I'm late on giving a well-deserved shout to the debut full-length from Bergen, Norway's Neighboring Sounds. Cold in the Smart City delivers 10 songs of absolutely fantastic emo built largely on a foundation of the classic '90s style, with a little extra atmosphere and shimmer that could arguably border on the mainstream, but tactfully so. A rock-solid rhythm section pulses away in the center as distinctly layered guitars weave together chords and riffs around the perimeter. At times the aesthetic can tend toward the relaxed and restrained, which makes the energetic and catchy moments burst forth with maximum impact—almost to the point of creating a sense of faux heaviness during the punchiest tracks. Excellent. For my ears, this is everything that true "emo" should be. Highly recommended.

I'm so late here that I actually had to settle for Cold in the Smart City on black vinyl, and even those might be nearly sold out at this point! Pick up what's left from Friend Club Records in the U.S. (Bandcamp or webstore); or Adagio 830 (Germany), Bcore (Spain), Friend of Mine Records (Japan), Lilla Himmel (Norway), Sound Fiction (Norway), or strictly no capital letters in the U.K. (black or splatter). Anyone else can stream using Spotify, Apple Music, and so on.

Think Machine

It's hard to believe that it's been four years since the last full-length from Wilmington, DE's Think Machine. I was super impressed by that material, so had really been looking forward to hearing where they'd land this time around, and the opening track demonstrates right away that they're still experimenting with an interesting blend of influences—almost like indie rock gone math metal!? These songs feel a touch heavier and even more technical than before, but the vibe is so clearly not metal. I almost have to compare them to the sorely underrated Clockhammer in that way, or maybe like an indie rock Propagandhi with less academic politics? Think Machine, however, retains a certain ruggedness that might imply both a desired avoidance of polish and a striving to write and perform challenging music that extends just beyond their abilities (I totally mean that as a compliment). Chuggy dual guitar riffs, acoustic passages, pinch harmonics, quirky time signatures, curious melodies... this is such a cool band, they really deserve more attention.

Waiting for the End of the World is out now on CD, cassette, or digital through Impetus Records and Bandcamp. If you're one who streams, fire up Spotify.

Time Spent Driving

The latest from Santa Cruz, CA's Time Spent Driving is also their first new material in about eight years, taking their brand of emo into a more relaxed and expansive direction. It's certainly not lacking when it comes to harder-hitting, memorable passages, but the general tone kind of has that loftier and more ambitious lushness to it, you know? It took me a few spins to place what I was being reminded of before I eventually recognized that—at least vocally—I'm hearing some cool similarities to Sense Field, which is not something I recall associating with Time Spent Driving in the past. This is another band that's been confusingly underrated for the duration of its run. I still remember buying their debut EP blind like 20 years ago just because the cover looked awesome, and being quite pleased with the result. All these years later, I'm still a fan... and you should be, too!

I could've sworn that I saw something about plans for Estrangers to exist on vinyl, but have seen no such mention of anything since its actual release date. At least for now, digital is the only option, so hit Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music, or wherever else you typically enjoy your sounds.


Subterranean duo Verminizer (fronted by ex-Watchmaker vocalist Brian Vocal Terror) has somehow just released their second album of utterly insane, rat-infested, dissonant thrashgrind in less than a year. This time around, I will say that the songs are much more obviously riff-based and tangible, so you're actually far more capable of banging your head (into a brick wall) while jamming these tunes—they even branch out a bit with the slow 'n' sludgy "The Unnatural Stench of Thinking Animals." The sound is less "digital," too, in large part because the drum programming isn't as overbearing, resulting in a clearer and more abrasive production style. I'd like to imagine that the subtle reverb on the vocals is because Brian's "singing" into a toilet, because he must be puking after every take given the intensity of his rabidly unhinged screams. So, make no mistake: this is still some relentlessly over-the-top, caustic lunacy that will not be for everyone. However, at this point, were they to appear on an episode of Beavis and Butt-Head, I do believe that Verminizer might actually yield a, "Whoa! Cool. Uhhh, huh-huh..."

Enthronement of Mars is available digitally right now, with limited edition tapes coming soon from Death Hymns.