Monday, 19 March 2018

VNDTA - Pale Glow EP

Labels: Self-Released
Formats: Digital
Release Date: 13 Apr 2018


1. Pale Glow
2. Excuses
3. Swine
4. Martyr
5. Rare Breed
6. Leeches
7. Virus

Bands that work hard at their craft and don't rush to release music usually turn out better than their peers. Hertfordshire, UK quartet VNDTA have been plying their trade since 2015 but are only now about to release their debut EP, "Pale Glow". They've spent the time honing their own alternative/progressive metal sound with influences ranging from No Doubt, to Slipknot and Thy Art Is Murder and have notched up live slots with the likes of Human Mycosis and King Leviathan (amongst others). 

VNDTA make a very controlled racket with loads of modern metal and melody on their EP’s title-track. What set’s them apart for me is the brutal vocal delivery of Megan Targett. She has a very impressive vocal range that includes soaring clean singing, but those roars are something else! The instrumentation is very much akin to the progressive music performed by the likes of Periphery and such, but they’re able to add deft touches of atmosphere on Excuses. The lyrics in the song add a bilious feel. The more you listen to “Pale Glow” the more VNDTA proves to be something very special. Swine includes more of the impressive clean singing I wrote about above and adds in some great off-kilter, alternative guitar work. The drums are ferocious too and help lead the transitions between tempos really well. 

The immediate impression of Martyr is one of full-scale thrashing madness and it lasts throughout the song, though it’s dialled down when the quartet launches another progressive attack. This is the most infectious song on the EP I think and it really strikes a chord. They carry all of that momentum into Rare Breed, which is where their song-writing really seems to step up a gear. It’s full of emotion and anger, as well as solid metal riffs and the kind of percussive drop that would make any festival crowd jump and mosh like their lives depended on it. By the time penultimate song Leeches comes around, VNDTA has full on nailed it and are exuding the confidence of a band much bigger. EP closer Virus has both real sing-along quality and attitude in equal measure. It draws a line under a debut release that’s a serious contender for EP of the year. What a fucking band!

You can stream the song Martyr via Youtube below:-

Keep an eye on the band's Facebook page for news on the EP release -

Friday, 16 March 2018

Cold Case 3-Way Tape - Pohjamuta/Cicutoxin/Rutsa

Labels: Ramekuukkeli-Levyt
Formats: Tape
Release Date: 27 Jan 2018


1. Pohjamuta - Uhrimiekka
2. Cicutoxin - The Fury
3. Cicutoxin - Junkies With Dogs
4. Rutsa - Raadonsyojat

I'm doing something tonight that I haven't done in a very long time...I'm reviewing a tape using a tape player! In an age when people (including myself, I'll be honest) are lazy and like to review things digitally, I decided to dust off the tape/cd combi I procured from my sister when I moved out and use it, secretly hoping that it doesn't chew up the first tape it sees. 

That first tape in question is the new 3-way tape from Finnish label Ramekuukkeli-Levyt and it features both Cicutoxin and Rutsa (who have been featured here before) and Pohjamuta (who haven't). All three bands play sludge metal but in their own ways. 

Pohjamuta takes up the whole of a-side of this tape with their song Uhrimiekka. They’re perfectly suited to the tape format as their sound is raw and noisy. Some people may not understand the format’s resurgence of late but it’s got a place in my heart nevertheless. Pohjamuta plays a crazed brand of sludge that features loads of up-tempo groove and a bizarre vocal delivery. It’s a lot of fun and will definitely frighten off anybody with a nervous disposition. At times is sounds more like black metal yet it never looses it’s sludgy backbone.

Cicutoxin is allowed two songs on the b-side and their first, The Fury, is distinctly more melodic though not necessarily clearer. Again, much like Pohjamuta on the a-side, they’re bleak in their own way. Their take on sludge is slower and more traditional with a very bass-heavy sound. The amusingly titled Junkies With Dogs is their second song and is instrumental for the most part. At times they sound like a slowed down (early version of) Mastodon instrumentation-wise and the vocals are screamed out in a sparing but vile fashion. 

Rutsa is a shock to the system with the grinding, fierce intensity of Raadonsyojat. It’s full of feedback and heavy riffs that are buried amongst a constant fuzz of white noise and snare crashes. When Rutsa eventually settles into a sludgy passage, they manage to sound even more violent. It’s a frenetic end to a tape that’s far from easy-listening. All three bands have their own originality and yet seem to fit together with ease here. If you like underground DIY music and don’t mind taking a risk then I would recommend this tape wholeheartedly.

There's no digital stream of the full tape but the participating bands are streaming their contributions below:-

Tape copies can be purchased from Ramekuukkeli-Levyt here -

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Slaves BC - Lo, and I Am Burning

Labels: The Fear And The Void Recordings
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 16 Mar 2018


1. Lo
2. We Are All God's Fault
3. Lightbearer
4. Glory
5. XLV
6. I Looked Upon The Face Of God And My Body Turned As Ash
7. Honor Thy Father And Mother
8. When Her Prayers Are Silenced
9. Unclean

I feel a bit conflicted as I write this opening paragraph. Not because of anything to do with Pittsburgh's Slaves BC, but because it finally looks as though the end has come for Terrorizer Magazine, according to Toilet Ov Hell. I feel conflicted because I read a lot of Terrorizer when I was younger and always enjoyed yet it seems that communication about their demise was lacking, in spite of still having loyal subscribers. I don't know the ins and outs of the situation, but the magazine will be missed even though the Internet now carries the long-form torch (sort of).

Moving onto Slaves BC then and their latest full-length "Lo, and I Am Burning". It is being released tomorrow on vinyl and also on digital platforms, via the band and The Fear And The Void Recordings. This full-length follows their 2016 debut album "All Is Dust and I Am Nothing". Their blackened doom has recently got them attention over at Noisey and their hometown album release gig in April is due to include the awesome Imperial Triumphant.  

Slaves BC packs a mighty punch on “Lo, and I Am Burning”. Opener Lo is a bleak and slow black metal song with screeching vox that is interspersed with blasts and reeking dissonance. The riffs at the start and end are pure sludge. There’s an obvious feeling on continuation between the album’s opener and We Are All God’s Fault, which carries on in the same tempo. It builds on their metallic sound, all the while adding layer upon layer of atmosphere. The stop-start nature of the song-writing and the eschewing of pauses between tracks makes it flow in a way that might surprise but that also pleases. There’s no moment for breath as the grinding fury of Lightbearer takes hold. Maddening time-signatures and icy black metal only make that fury more real. 

Glory is an utterly ambivalent sub one-minute song that leads nicely into XLV, where Slaves BC once again show off their appreciation of sludge and doom. It’s a lot more experimental and they don’t just stick to one sub-genre, as with the rest of the record. Basically, they just play what they want as long as it’s in the heavier realm and are all the better for it. You can’t really get more foreboding than I Looked Upon The Face Of God And My Body Turned As Ash (for a song-title anyway) but the music held herein lives up to that adjective and more besides. More fast, grinding, metallic black metal with no rest.

The lengthier songs on the album really do highlight an engaging side to Slaves’ music. Honor Thy Father And Mother is only one of two songs that passes the five-minute mark but it’s full of discordance and as harrowing as you could imagine. When Her Prayers Are Silenced starts off sounding like some dystopian power-electronics song with distant screams before turning back down a more familiar path (obviously the comparison to power-electronics is my own and probably not accurate). Closing song Unclean is super apt, as you’ll no doubt feel dirty by the time you reach the end of the album. It would be hard to cleanse yourself of the contents of “Lo…” but then again if you have got this far then you’re probably not bothered. Slaves BC have written a monolithic slab of noisy, heavy black/doom madness that pretty much spells out this world’s implosion. Try to change my mind.

You can stream both Lo and We Are All God's Fault below, where the album can also be digitally pre-ordered:-

Vinyl pre-orders are available via The Fear And The Void Recordings here -

The Fear And The Void Recordings -

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Chiller - Chiller

Labels: Dirt Cult Records/Rock Star Records
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 02 Feb 2018


1. Heretic
2. Monophonic
3. Offred
4. Strangers
5. The Void
6. Satisfied
7. Agony
8. Unanswered

Here's a cool new Canadian punk record. It was released in February via US label Dirt Cult Records and German label Rock Star Records. Chiller is a quartet from Moncton, New Brunswick and this (I think) is the band's first record. Chiller is a continuation of fellow Dirt Cult band Feral Trash. There's not a lot else I can say about this band apart from, if you like garage punk and good punk in general, this is for you.

Chiller’s take on garage punk seems to be dark like The Cure and menacing like early Alkaline Trio. Heretic is a great opener with lots of instrumental melody, clean vocals and attitude. The riffs that help make up Monophonic are catchy and add to a sound that’s retro and simple in approach but big on presence. Chiller makes use of dual male/female vocals and Offred reminds you that punk music is more rich and varied than more mainstream genres (though there’s still a long way to go in that sense). Chiller’s musical ability on Strangers is pushed to the fore as they add the occasional post-hardcore nuance to the song, while allowing it to be heavier and more raucous. Talking of raucous, The Void has all the energy of a riot grrrl punk song and the urgency to go with it. 

That urgency seems to be more obvious during the second half of the record and Satisfied carries on Chiller’s momentum with a great uptempo structure. Despite that party/pop-vibe there’s still an element of aching darkness hidden in the music’s depths. There are glimpses of 80s punk and pop throughout and none more so is this present than during penultimate son Agony. As with previous songs it doesn’t hang about too long. Chiller manages to achieve all that they want to in it’s short running time, which goes for the whole album as well. A subtle hint of old Westerns can be heard in the guitar work on album closer Unanswered, which is more simplified and restrained in it’s delivery to start with. Chiller opens up and lets the volume levels increase with a sing/shout-along chorus and full instrumental back-up that at times sound orchestral. This LP isn’t overblown or obtuse, it’s just filled with short and sharp punk songs that will easily catch the ear. Great stuff.

You can stream and buy a download of "Chiller" from Dirt Cult Records below:-

Physical LP copies can be purchased via the link below:-

Euro copies have sold out via Rock Star Records. Chiller also has limited copies but they have all gone too.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Murder Hollow - The Adept

Labels: Self-Released/Ramekuukkeli-Levyt
Formats: Digital/Tape
Release Date: 16 Feb 2018


1. The Lover
2. The Alchemist
3. The Adept

March has been a bit slower than I'd hoped up to this point, but I've been sent some cool new releases in tape form so I'm going to take the opportunity to write about them (and some other releases) over the next week, starting tonight with this new release from Finnish doom/death band Murder Hollow. "The Adept" is the Tampere quartet's third release since their formation in 2013. It feature three songs and released digitally by the band and on tape by Finnish label Ramekuukkeli-Levyt last month. 

Finland and doom/death, two familiar bedfellows to this blog. Murder Hollow though is a new band to these ears and the sub-genre tag above isn’t necessarily as accurate as you;d think. EP opener The Lover starts with a drawn-out sampled noise intro that gives way to incredibly groovy bass and drum work. Both provide a funky tempo that carries on throughout the heavy verses, where the harsh vocals and driving guitars take centre stage. It’s really hard to describe adequately but imaging if (the instrumental section of) Rage Against The Machine suddenly decided to play doom metal and you’re about there. 

The Alchemist takes things in a more traditional direction with some cracking riffs that conjure images of both Grand Magus and Reverend Bizarre jamming at the same time. It’s got that despondent yet catchy dynamic that stops the listener from switching off, while Heikki’s vocals are suitably deathly. Murder Hollow strikes me as a very adept (excuse the pun) band with excellent song-writing skill. They close out with the EP’s title-track and just like the previous two songs, they’ve managed to make it sound different. It’s got a stoner/psych feel to it and yet it still fits into the EP without any continuation worries. It’s a great song to end on and there’s no let up in musicality or momentum. This is definitely a release that’ll hit you from nowhere and grab you attention instantly. If you doom/death with a different then Murder Hollow is your band.

You can stream and download "The Adept" via Murder Hollow's bandcamp page below:-

Physical tapes can be purchased from Ramekuukkeli-Levyt here -

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Spectral Lore/Jute Gyte - Helian

Labels: I, Voidhanger Records
Formats: CD/Digital
Release Date: 19 Jan 2018


1. Jute Gyte - Helian
2. Spectral Lore - Helian

This new two-song split comes from Greek band Spectral Lore and the USA'a Jute Gyte. Both bands play extreme, atmospheric black metal of sorts and this release sees them both re-imagining the 1913 poem "Helian" by Austrian poet Georg Trakl. The split has been released via I, Voidhanger Records on both CD and digital platforms. Spectral Lore was created by sole-member Ayloss in 2005 and to date, the band has released four full-lengths and countless splits and EPs. Jute Gyte, also a one-piece and started by Adam Kalmbach, has released a vast number of full-lengths, splits and EPs. 

This record begins with Jute Gyte’s musical interpretation of Helian. Jute Gyte presents it in a droning, misery-drenched way. The main backbone of the song is doom-like bass/guitar and percussion, interspersed with harsh black metal vocals and organ-like synths. It varies in pace, with the fast sections becoming almost fit-inducing thanks to what sounds like a drum machine that’s set to warp speed. Experimentation is at the forefront of both Jute Gyte’s music and this song. The song is lengthy so thankfully the tempo and mood changes are at points that will maintain the interest of the listener, without turning them off due to it’s extremity. 

The soothing guitar that opens up Spectral Lore’s take on Helian is surely there to draw you into a false sense of security. It’s incredibly musical yet the sense of foreboding that filled the air during Jute Gyte’s song is still there and it’s not long before more feed-back drenched notes fill your ears. Again it’s doom-filled but more restrained as well. The spoken-word sample/vocals sit within the mix before giving way to rasping growls. At times it’s more introspective and relaxing (if I can say that), with less reliance on bold and extreme musical shifts. The song kind of splits in to two movements, as around ten minutes in there’s a very brief moment of silence. That silence gives way to riffy blackened doom, amongst the band’s atmospheric textures.

My futile attempt to write a synopsis of this record is plain to see. It has two very different sides to it though. One is bizarre and extreme, while the other is more insightful and relaxing (in a strange way). It’s a record that you’ll need to listen to yourself, to truly appreciate. Needless to say, it’s inspiring. 

You can stream "Helian" and purchase it on CD and digitally below:-

Monday, 5 March 2018

Demon Head - The Resistance 7"

Labels: The Sign Records
Formats: Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 20 Apr 2018


1. The Resistance
2. Rivers Of Mars

This week is looking like it's going to be a busy one, so I've managed to steal some time this evening to have a sneaky listen to something that's due out in April. This is the latest 7" from Danish "Diabolic rock" band Demon Head. It's being released via The Sign Record on April 20th and it follows their full-length "Thunder On The Fields", which was released nearly twelve months ago. Demon Head plays a brand of rock/metal that's rooted in retro and psych, despite only being in existence since 2012.

There’s a lot of traditional heavy metal and doom that’s paying homage to the originators of the genre at the moment and I’m only really venturing into it for the first time. Demon Head are one band that’s capturing the essence of the 70s (and in some cases the 60s) to create a retro sound. The opening title-track to this 7” is quintessentially Scandinavian, with laid-back instrumentation and clean singing that brings to mind the likes of early-Reverend Bizarre and at times Black Sabbath. 

Where the title-track is actually pretty progressive, second song Rivers Of Mars is catchier and has an element of pop-sensibility nestling within it’s warming tones. Demon Head’s music is perfect for vinyl and this song encompasses that. It’s tempo and analog sound is infectious and the vocal melodies and guitar work are stellar, while the band’s intricacies disguise just how hummable it is. If you’re a fan of traditional heavy metal/doom that’s got charm and personality then Demon Head is a band you’re gonna want to pay close attention to.

You can stream the 7"s second song Rivers Of Mars below via Demon Head's bandcamp page:-

You can purchase a digital pre-order directly from their bandcamp page above, where you'll get one song now and the other when the 7" is officially released. 

Physical pre-orders have begun via The Sign Records here -

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Pozoga - Demo 2017

Labels: Self-Released/Distro-y Records
Formats: Vinyl(due out soon/Digital
Release Date: 02 Jul 2017


1. Gone To The Dogs...
2. No Hay Futuro (RIP Cover)

Here's some new Irish crust punk to get you warmed up. Dublin's Pozoga released their first demo back in July of last year and it's now due for an imminent 7" release via Irish label Distro-y Records. The demo features two quick-fire tracks, including an original song and a cover of a song by Spanish band RIP. The quartet features members from different parts of the world.

This is noisy and fast crust punk. Gone To The Dogs… wastes no time in getting up to speed with a chaotic rhythm section, metallic riffs and semi-barked vox. It’s heavy hardcore with groove and no filler. Pozoga’s cover of No Hay Futuro (by RIP) takes things in a much heavier direction and the vocals are in Spanish too (I think), adding to the ferocity of the band’s delivery. 

The demo was mixed in 2016-17 by Ciaran Parnell and mastered by Pozoga’s guitarist Rudi, who’ve both done a great job of retaining the band’s dirty but exciting sound. Two songs, three minutes. Gnarly punk from a band that get straight to the point. 

You can stream Pozoga's demo and download it below:-

Distro-y Records have sent the 7" to press and you can keep up-to-date with order info here -

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Arkheth - 12 Winter Moons Comes The Witches Brew

Labels: Transcending Obscurity Records
Formats: CD/Digital
Release Date: 20 Feb 2018


1. Trismegistus
2. Dark Energy Equilibrium
3. Where Nameless Ghouls Weep
4. The Fool Who Persists In His Folly
5. A Place Under The Sun

With the snow falling outside, I felt it was better to stay cocooned in the warm embrace of black metal, though this isn't just any black metal. A glance at the cover art of the third full-length from Australia's Arkheth above should be able to convince you of that. The solo project from Orange, New South Wales released "12 Winter Moons Comes The Witches Brew" last week via growing extreme metal label Transcending Obscurity Records and it's the band's third in fifteen years. This album has garnered a lot of press attention recently but as always I approach in blind, without letting any reviews influence my writing.

It’s fun to delve into an album by a band that you genuinely have no preconceptions about. Arkheth is one such band and “12 Winter Moons…” is one such album. Opener Trismegistus is a rabid mix of both cold black metal and oddly uplifting instrumentation. There’s hints to the band’s earlier symphonic leanings during the opening verse, while the guitar work offers melody and there’s a saxophone adding an extra layer to the music. If Madness were to offer their brass section to an extreme metal band, this is pretty close to how the music would sound (and I mean that in the nicest way possible). The use of samples also helps to heap on atmosphere, which transports the song to another place. 

From the sublime opener, Arkheth moves on to the haunting rock ’n’ roll of Dark Energy Equilibrium. There’s plenty of experimentation with sounds and effects and it creates quite a backdrop. I know that the saxophone has been utilised by black metal bands already (Sigh, the band not the expression!) but here Arkheth uses it to compliment the quieter moments, while the off-kilter craziness is allowed to run free, led by the guitars. The percussion is deep in the mix too but that low-profile actually works better as it sounds more restrained. The weirdness continues on Where Nameless Ghouls Weep, which contains vocals that sound like wolf howls and like a none-to-drugged-up Marilyn Manson. The organ-like keyboard effects only make it stranger too. There are occasions of more straightforward metal in the song, but they are few and far between. That’s alright though as if you’re listening to this, then there’s high chance you’re beyond straightforward metal anyway. 

The Fool Who Persists In His Folly is a strange mix of the downright bizarre and the classical. In fact, I’m past even trying to describe what’s going on. You’ll need to listen to the full record to truly work that out. That’s not a criticism though, more of a nod to just how unique this album is. The album’s final number A Place Under The Sun is initially the restrained song that the album needed. I mean, there’s no way that Arkheth’s experimental madness could have kept pace for another song is there? Well the answer to that is…of course it could! After the song’s first half, which is filled with bleak black metal, Arkheth finishes with a lengthy saxophone led passage that leads into an equally lengthy full instrumental ending. It’s a great way to end to an album that’s completely out of left field yet also very compelling in it’s detail and abstract musicality. May your eyes and ears truly be opened. 

You can stream three of the album's five songs here:-

You can also buy it digitally and on cd from the bandcamp page above.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Eigenlicht - Self-Annihilating Consciousness

Labels: Gilead Media/I, Voidhanger Records
Formats: CD/Vinyl/Digital
Release Date: 16 Feb 2018


1. There Lies Already The Shadow Of Annihilation
2. Hagia Sophia
3. Labrys
4. The Deifugal Force
5. Berserker

It's scary to think that it's almost been three years since I first featured Olympia (Washington, USA) black metal band Eigenlicht on here. How time flies! The quartet has recently released it's first full-length via both Gilead Media and I, Voidhanger Records. The 2015 EP "Sacral Regicide" was a mere hint at what the band could achieve on a larger format and finally they are given this chance by two fantastic labels. "Self-Annihilating Consciousness" is sprawled across both cd (I, Voidhanger Records) and 2 LP's, both hewn in gold or black wax (Gilead Media).

Eigenlicht has always been very adept at weaving atmosphere into their music. There Lies Already The Shadow Of Annihilation is a very short instrumental opener, featuring droning feedback and traditional flute melodies. Hagia Sofia is the record’s first long-player and initially it’s very doom-like. Again, it contains traditional instrumentation and it’s slow to build. When the vocals kick in, they’re low growls that remind you more of doom/death. They sit well amongst the atmospheric instrumentation but it’s only when the harsher and higher-pitched screams start that you realise there’s more to Eigenlicht than just slow, meandering heaviness. The clean singing is chant-like and haunting, and the band doesn’t believe in instant gratification for the listener, instead preferring to progress slowly and with musical touches that aren’t always present within black metal. It’s only towards the end of the song that they choose to unleash a more obvious black metal approach. 

I suppose that just calling this a black metal album is way off the mark, as it’s a lot more varied and experimental for that narrow classification, though Labrys appears more straightforward. It sounds more orchestral and majestic, which for a band that doesn’t call themselves a symphonic black metal band, is quite an achievement. The moments of off-kilter mayhem later in the song takes it in a completely different direction for a little while, though it never loses it’s musicality. Spacey keyboard ambience paints a subtly dramatic picture on Deifugal Force. It is heard over the guitars and at times is quire menacing. At around the two-minute mark it gives way to another bout of off-kilter guitar work and slow percussion. This is the record’s longest song and it definitely feels as though Eigenlicht has upped the experimental textures somewhat. It’s a glorious piece of music that is both harrowing and transfixing, even in it’s quietest moments. 

Ending with Berserker, Eigenlicht takes a slightly more laid back approach but there’s still a sense that they could flair up at any moment. Flair up they do, though only relatively briefly. Their black metal blueprint sounding as brilliant as ever. “Self-Annihilating Consciousness” is a record that may demand repeat listens, but one that will reward you with it’s enchanting and sprawling musical textures. Eigenlicht has certainly stepped it up on this full-length and are a band that stand out as one’s to pay close attention to. Great stuff. 

You can stream "Self-Annihilating Consciousness" and purchase it digitally via Eigenlicht's bandcamp page below:-

You can buy physical cd and vinyl copies from the releasing labels below:-