Monday, 30 September 2013

Exhaustion - Demo


Exhaustion can creep up on your when least expect it. I mean, the daily commute between home and work is killing me and waking up stupidly early ain't much better. That's a different kind of Exhaustion though! This Exhaustion is heavy. This Exhaustion is noisy and this Exhaustion definitely does not go wee...wee...wee all the way home.

These guys only appeared on my radar earlier this year,  but have recently released their debut demo tape via the ever present Church of Fuck and literally within the last week, they've announced a short UK tour with Employed To Serve, which will be taking in Brighton, London, Bristol, Stoke and Leeds (guess I'll be off to the Leeds date then!). This tape is six songs of incessant rage and noise that veers between grind, hardcore and metal of various strains.

Tracklist:-

1. Ennui
2. Strangeness In The Strangeness
3. Inessential
4. Conceit
5. Liminal
6. Perfection Misunderstands The Ends...

I don't know what it is about UK bands, and I've said this before, but there seems to be a huge undercurrent of rage that exists in the heart and soul of those bands. I'm not going to try and analyse the reasons for that rage, I'm just going to point you in the direction of Exhaustion's opening track Ennui. It's a sub-one minute blast of grind-laden noise, with plenty of swirling feedback. Strangeness In The Strangeness keeps that feedback going before they bring the sky crashing down with a hellish assault of guitar driven power-violence, with blackened tones and rabid screams. It's that instant approach that gives you no time to breath, think or control your bodily functions.

Most people think that it's only our US cousins who can make a dirty racket like this, but like fellow grind/PV bands like Famine, Gets Worse and Corrupt Moral Altar, Exhaustion are sure to start building a name for themselves with songs like Inessential. Their black metal influences come to fore more during the intro to Conceit, which gives Exhaustion a chance to slow down a notch and groove, which boy can they do! There's still plenty of off-kilter grind in the latter half of the song though, so don't worry speed freaks.

Liminal seems to drag the atmosphere down to darker realms, with a longer and more experimental song, featuring some textures that wouldn't seem out of place in a math band and riffs which sound like they emerged straight a New Orleans swamp. It draws you into Perfection Misunderstand The Ends, which is probably the bands most metal song; even with it's pace. The build up screams epic thrash, before the punk-laden drums punch out a pogo-inducing rhythm and the bass tones hark at something all the more menacing. There's melody hiding in the mix too, which hits the spot really well, especially thanks to the warm sound of the tape itself.

It's pretty crazy to think of the steps, ideas and sounds that course through the veins of this band. They aren't a band you can easily pigeonhole. They just pump out six tracks of metal filled with grinding urgency and punk swagger. Hopefully it won't be too long before they're battering us again with a new release. Roll on Leeds!

If you've not checked Exhaustion out yet, nows the time. The full demo is streaming on their bandcamp page here:-



The demo is available as a name-you-price digital download, directly from the above bandcamp page.

If you prefer physical releases, you have options:-

A limited CD version with special artwork is available via Exhaustion's bigcartel page here - http://exhaustion.bigcartel.com/

There are still copies of the tape version from Church of Fuck here - http://churchoffuck.bigcartel.com/product/cof28-exhaustion-demo-tape

Check out the tour poster below:-


More news can be found on the event pages. You can find them on Exhaustion's Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/exhaustion1.

Church of Fuck Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/churchoffck.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Napalm Christ - 2013 Demo


After a brief glimpse at my mellower side with yesterday's review, I'm back with something heavier. This is the demo from Arkansas based extreme metal band Napalm Christ. I could be more specific than extreme when describing them, but when they play an amalgamation of death, grind, doom and black metal, I figured the term would suffice. NC only came to my attention earlier this year and it turns out that this demo is their first recorded output. The tape has been released by UK label Goatprayer Records, who have been releasing music for bands from far and wide since early 2012.

Tracklist:-

1. Idols of Evil
2. Life Is Dimmin
3. Reclaimed By The Earth
4. Nuclear Holy War
5. Despoilment of Will
6. Burning Away The Scourge

As this demo is very recent, you'd expect the recording to be pretty good, which is it. Idols of Evil opens it up with some thick, sludgy riffs that give way to some fast death metal. The twin guitar harmonies sound epic and the grinding drums in the background more than match them. The vocals have a slight hardcore edge, but remain pretty deathly. NC throw in some well placed time changes and atmospheric clean guitar too, which add texture. NC slows things down with Life Is Dimmin, which features some more that great guitar work. It's a bit of a departure from the more instant opener but the musicality involved shows off their writing skills. It's all delivered in a measured and controlled way, with no histrionics or showboating, which is refreshing. Don't get me wrong though, they do lurch back into death metal territory during the song, but it's so listenable that you don't mind the sudden jolt.

They have a purely hellish masterpiece in Reclaimed By The Earth. It's over nine minutes of progressive extreme metal with a hint of the black stuff. It's a nod to sort of extreme metal, which has spawned so many blackened hardcore bands of late. This time though, NC injects the song with a lengthy instrumental mid-section, which peppered with low growls that sit in the mix. The slow, trudging riffs and the power of the bass may well make your bowels drop out! The speed is turned up during Nuclear Holy War, with the vocals taking on a new evil form. The melodic guitar picking adds technicality and you can't help but headbang. It's great that there’s plenty going on musically in these songs, even though they're not overly complex. It's just refreshing to hear a band not trying to show off.

Talking of not showing off, Despoilment of Will is a grinding, writhing mess of a song (in the best possible way), that doesn't even pass two minutes. It leads into sprawling closer Burning Away The Scourge. Another lengthy number this one, but with enough riffage and sass to make it worth it. With the strength of this demo, a brief closing song just wouldn't be right, so it's down to Burning Away The Scourge to ensure that you turn this tape back over and play it again and again, which you will. It's extreme but also accessible, so even if you're just finding your way down the left hand path, you'll find plenty to enjoy. This is certainly one of my candidates for demo of the year.

You can stream the whole demo here:-



You can buy the tape directly from the above bandcamp page and it comes with an immediate digital download too!

It's available on Napalm Christ's own bandcamp page as a name-your-price download here - http://napalmchrist.bandcamp.com/

You can also get it from Goatprayer's bigcartel page here - http://goatprayerrecords.bigcartel.com/

Napalm Christ Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Napalm-Christ
Goatprayer Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/goatprayerrecords
Goatprayer Records Website - http://goatprayerrecords.com/

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Brave Bird - Ready Or Not EP


You know, I don't just like heavy music. I appreciate melodic music too, especially punk and emo. I thought I'd kill a bit of time by writing about an EP that came out a while ago. It was the first recorded output of Ann Arbor punk/indie/emo band Brave Bird, which came to my attention when I got an e-mail telling me they'd signed with Count Your Lucky Stars Records. I didn't know too much about the band itself, but I knew if they were on the CYLS roster, they must be pretty good. Brave Bird have recently released a new album, but I felt it would be a good idea to start from the beginning.

Tracklist:-

1. Scared Enough
2. Healthy
3. The Worst Things Happen To Me
4. Tired Enough
5. See You Next Year.

Starting off with some great twinkly guitar, Brave Bird sound pretty dreamy as they settle into EP opener Scared Enough. The vocals are mixture of softly sung vocals and louder harmonies. It kind of reminds me of Deja Entendu era Brand New. The song is mid-paced but full of emotion and energy. The drums are understated and sit in the background. The distant vocals in the mid section are great, especially when all the voices are in unison and the guitar is lightly playing alongside them. Brave Bird is only a three-piece but when they're playing their more raucous passages, they make a lot of noise. 

Healthy is equally as moving as Scared Enough. The guitar work weaves some great melodies into the music and counterbalances the vocals, which sometimes tread into screamo territory, without losing coherence. This is definitely he music for you, if you've had a hard at the coalface and just want to wind down. I've seen Brave Bird described as indie but I think that indie as a genre is really staid and formulaic compared to the music that Brave Bird creates.

Like UK counterparts Crash of Rhinos, I think that Brave Bird are a bit of a revelation. The fact that their music is so simple, yet math at the same time. They don't overdo the strange time signatures and keep things melodic, instead of distorting the hell out of it. The meandering rhythms and calm atmosphere during The Worst Things Happen To Me illustrate the previous points pretty well too. Those gang-style vocal melodies bring themselves back during the awesome Tired Enough. This song really makes me want to dig out my old early 00’ emo records. You know the ones that were good and not just overpaid, manufactured Americans wearing make-up! The whole package just seems to get better and Brave Bird finishes the song on a high with all the elements of the band coming together.

Closer, See You Next Year leaves you with one final punk hymn. It's acoustic as well, with just the guitar and vocals to keep you company. Somehow, Brave Bird seem more stirring in this guise, thanks to their soaring tones during the choruses. Some people may think that the singing is slightly off key at times, but it is a demo and Brave Bird are playing from the heart, so I'm sure you can forgive that. Ready or Not is five songs brimming with character and sincerity. What more could you want.

Listen to it here and drift off:-



The EP is available digitally from the bandcamp page above, either for free from the mediafire link embedded in the page or for $5.

As far as I can tell, there are no physical copies available.

Brave Bird Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/bravebirdmi

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Archagathus/Jeffrey Dahmer - Mincecrusher 7"



So, I decided to take a few days off, what with it being the start of the Champions League group stages and Grand Theft Auto 5's release week. A few days is too long though without the loud stuff! Talking of loud, here's the latest in an evergrowing line of spkit 7"s featuring Archagathus. This time they appear alongside Indonesian grinders Jeffrey Dahmer. The release was a collaborative effort by Mannequin Rein Recordings, Grindfather Productions, Nuclear Alcoholocaust, Placenta Recordings, Riotous Outburst Records and Trashfuck Records. Archagathus have five tracks on the split and Jeffrey Dahmer have four. So, you're getting nine tracks of grinding mayhem!

Tracklist:-

1. Archagathus - Sad Together
2. Archagathus - Eating A Hammer
3. Archagathus - Stupid Human
4. Archagathus - Which Kingdom?
5. Archagathus - Open Up (DYS Cover)
6. Jeffrey Dahmer - Holiday In Afghanistan (SMG Cover)
7. Jeffrey Dahmer - Fuck Your War, Fuck Your Terror
8. Jeffrey Dahmer - International Suicide Epidemic
9. Jeffrey Dahmer - Hate And Grudge

It's been a while since I've listened to Archagathus. I've forgotten how intense they are! Mincecrusher features a rabid and raw Archagathus, with a crushing live sound with punk undertones and scary, PV vocals. Sad Together starts things off with a chaotic opening section followed by the punk inspired textures I was talking about. The vocals are a mixture of high screams and low as hell grunts. Eating A Hammer is pretty much the same, but a little more mid paced. Stupid Human features some great rock n roll sass alongside vocals, which show off their death metal influences. Bearing in mind these songs only nudge the minute mark, there's plenty going on. Which Kingdom? sees Archagathus spread their grinding wings slightly with the first of two longer songs. It's mainly guitar led, with little use of vocals until the final thirty seconds really. I can see plenty of people two-stepping to it live! They end with a DYS cover in the form of Open Up. It's Boston hardcore done by a grind band and they certainly make it their own. It fits well with their punkier edge and the rest of their side. Ripping stuff!

Jeffrey Dahmer start their side with a more conventional cover, in the form of Holiday In Afghanistan by SMG. Jeffrey Dahmer's sound is equally as raw as Archagathus's and also more bass heavy. JD really ratchet up the chaos on their side of split. Fuck Your War, Fuck Your Terror is forty-four seconds of blastbeat filled mayhem, with flailing cymbals everywhere and low as hell, bass-heavy feedback. They slow things down a notch on International Suicidal Epidemic, which features some brilliant drumming. With forty seconds to go, they press the big red button and explode into a closing passage of angry, rage-fuelled grind, which stops on a dime. Closing with Hate And Grudge, they fire one final speed-demon of a song at you. Much like the rest of the split, it's over all too quickly and leaves you with a heart rate that you'd only otherwise get from cheating death.

This split isn't for people who like clean or clinical production, but then what would be the point of that in grind. This is a collaboration by two like-minded bands and six like-minded labels. It spells out exactly what the underground, DIY scene is all about. Both bands slay with minimal fuss. Let's face it; you want bands to go straight for the jugular.

Luckily for you, both bands are streaming their side of this split on Youtube. Check both out below:-

Archagathus Side - 


Jeffrey Dahmer Side -


You can pick up a copy of the record from any of these labels:-

Mannequin Rein Recordings - http://www.mrrdistro.com/
Grindfather Productions - http://www.grindfatherprod.com/
Nuclear Alcoholocaust - http://nuclearalcoholocaustrec.webs.com/
Placenta Recordings - http://placentarecordings.blogspot.co.uk/
Riotous Outburst - http://riotousoutburst.bigcartel.com/products
Trashfuck Records - http://trashfuck.blogspot.co.uk/

Archagathus Last FM- http://www.last.fm/music/Archagathus
Jeffrey Dahmer Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/JEFFREY-DAHMER-crusty-grindcore
Mannequin Rein Recordings Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/mannequinrein
Grindfather Productions - https://www.facebook.com/pages/GRINDFATHER-PRODUCTIONS
Nuclear Alcoholocaust Records - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nuclear-Alcoholocaust-Rec
Placenta Recordings - https://www.facebook.com/placentarecordings
Riotous Outburst Records - https://www.facebook.com/riotousoutburst
Trashfuck Records - https://www.facebook.com/tfrecs


Sunday, 15 September 2013

Foul Body Autopsy - The Epidemic Sickening The World EP


When you think of one-man bands, you tend to think of black metal, but death metal has it's fare share too. Foul Body Autopsy are one such band. After beginning back in 2011 with two self-released demos and a song featuring on one of the Damn & Blast comps put together by Grindethic records, multi-instrumentalist Tom Reynolds put out a single in 2012. This debut EP was released via UKEM Records earlier this year featuring re-recorded tracks from those early demos plus three new songs. With shows alongside extreme metal heavyweights like Amputated and countless other shows under the bands belt (you just have to look at FBA's flyer album of Facebook), you'll definitely be hearing more the band as soon to be released debut album approaches.

Tracklist:-

1. Outbreak
2. The Epidemic Sickening the World
3. The Last Days of Humanity
4. And the World Looked On in Horror
5. Left to Rot
6. Synthetic Existence


UKEM Records always has a knack of unearthing and releasing music by some of the UK's best-kept extreme metal secrets and they've done again with Foul Body Autopsy. The Epidemic Sickening The World starts with Outbreak, which is filled with screams and the sound or air raid sirens. It's a disconcerting intro.

It leads into the title track, which is technical death metal with plenty of pinch-harmonic madness. The growls are hellish and the drums are amongst the faster you're likely to hear this year. Tom Reynolds is certainly quite the musician. He's joined here by Lee Pellington who provides plenty of low-end thanks to his bass work.

Following on immediately after is The Last Days of Humanity. The vocals change from low growls to high-pitched shrieks that bring to mind black metal, as well a thrashier guitar. The EP takes a progressive turn with And The World Looked On In Horror. This seven-plus minute leviathan is absolutely nuts with some really deep vocal contortions going on. The mid-section is filled with some beautiful instrumental work, which balances out the extremity from the rest of the EP. There's majestic groove and textures throughout the song, making it a standout on the EP. 

Left To Rot brings the atmosphere back down with its evil tone and frenetic pace, as does EP closer Synthetic Existence.  It rounds out a thoroughly great sounding, modern death metal EP, which features plenty of riffs and potential. The new album should be well worth the wait if this is anything to go by.


You can listen to the opening three tracks from this EP via UKEM's bandcamp page:-



You can download it from the above page for the bargain price of £2.The download only features three songs, with the full six appearing only on the CD. From browsing UKEM's store, it looks like the CD is sold out, so if you want a copy you'll have to look elsewhere.

Foul Body Autopsy Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/FoulBodyAutopsyofficial
UKEM Records Website - http://www.ukemrecords.co.uk/
UKEM Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/ukemrecords

Cnoc An Tursa - The Giants of Auld


This review is the first in a series of reviews that were originally wrote for and published in Ghost Cult Magazine, earlier this year. Having remained in contact with the editor of Ghost Cult, I was given permission to publish these reviews here. I'm starting out with my very first review for this Internet based magazine, The Giants of Auld by Cnoc An Tursa. The Giants of Auld was released in February via Candlelight Records and was the debut release for this Scottish black metal four-piece.

Tracklist:-

1. The Piper O' Dundee
2. The Lion of Scotland
3. Bannockburn
4. Hail Land of My Fathers
5. Ettrick Forest In November
6. The Spellbound Knight
7. In Shadowland
8. Winter A Dirge
9. Culloden Moor
10.  Blar Na H-Eaglaise Brice

The Giants of Auld begins with a folk-inspired intro called The Piper O’ Dundee, which features traditional strings and woodwind, before Cnoc An Tursa’s melodious guitar enters the fray and they burst into The Lion of Scotland. They intersperse raw black-metal vocals with folk-inspired guitar and pounding drums. Their music is amazingly upbeat and powerful, and where bands like Turisas and Alestorm have become somewhat of a joke in recent years, Cnoc An Tursa manage to pull off a sound that is interesting and one that befits their home nation. It doesn’t take you long to realise why Cnoc An Tursa was picked up by Candlelight Records. They have elements of Dark Tranquillity-style death metal within their sound at times and the cleanliness of the production on The Giants Of Auld make it a very good listen.

Bannockburn and Hail Land of My Fathers are heavier songs, but they still feature traditional undertones thanks to the keyboard of Rene McDonald Hill. The addition of choral vocal textures in the background of Hail Land of My Fathers provides a subtly haunting backdrop but the great guitar harmonies shine through the dark. The songs featured here seem to pass by very quickly thanks to the creativity of the band and you are held captive by the textures and images that their music weaves. The second half of the album begins with the elegant siren song of The Spellbound Knight. The drums seem more raging as the intro strides on and more rousing melodies flow from the guitars. This is the longest song on the album at nearly seven minutes and while being predominantly mid-paced, it is more majestic that what has come before it. Some of the lead work on display during In Shadowland is immense to the point that it stirs your soul more than you could imagine.

Cnoc An Tursa use their homeland in Scotland as a force for positive ideas and musical influence that seems to flow throughout The Giants of Auld. It’s not often that you comes across a band that manage to sound so authentic and true to their roots, while staying on the right side of the line and not coming across as contrite. Cnoc An Tursa do this really well and as the final song Blar Na H-Eaglaise Brice fills your ears with traditional flute/Whistle melodies you realise that you’ve been listening to something very special.

Candlelight Records are streaming the entire album on their bandcamp page. You can listen to it below:-



This review originally appeared in Issue 6 of Ghost Cult Magazine. You can read it in it's original format here - http://issuu.com/scratchthesurface/docs/ghost_cult_magazine_issue_6

Make sure you also check out the rest of the issue and head over to GC's website here - http://www.ghostcultmag.com/

You can purchase The Giants of Auld from Candlelight's webstore via Plastichead here - http://www.plastichead.com/

Cnoc An Tursa Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/cnocantursa
Candlelight Records Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/candlelightrecords

Friday, 13 September 2013

Totem Skin - These Ghosts Are Haunting Our Halls EP


Sweden's latest wave of hardcore/d-beat bands are really lighting the genre up at the moment and This Noise Is Ours faves Totem Skin are one such band. They have a new album 12" LP, which is seeing a release via the always awesome Dog Knights Records in a couple of weeks, so I thought it would be fitting to review their second EP from March this year. You know, just to get you in the mood!

Tracklist:-

1. To Live Is To Be Haunted
2. No Gods, No Masters
3. Drick Varmen Un Min Hand
4. He Wears a Mask And His Face Grows To Fit It
5. We Wished To Free The Captured Foxes
6. Our Hearts Were Gardens

When I first heard Totem Skin's debut EP, it blew me away and fellow readers. Their second EP is no different. To Live Is To Be Haunted starts like an atmospheric black metal song before morphing into a raw, feedback ridden crust/hardcore odyssey. The calming instrumental mid-section brews tension in the song, which leads to another outpouring of feedback and emotion, tempered with intelligent screamo. 

No Gods, No Masters is just searingly intense from the first deafening hit of feedback, to the low-end ridden filth that makes up this one and half minute belter. It also subtly hints at the tone at which they're going to delivering their new record. They revert to their mother tongue during the third song. Drick Varmen Ur Min Hand starts with minimal bass and screams before launching into a part fast, part sludgy number that shakes and shatters everything around it. The metallic elements hidden in the song coupled with the dissonance bring to bear bands like Dead In The Dirt and Seven Sisters of Sleep.

They have the right approach to the track order as well, deciding to follow a longer song with a short-blast of molten fury. The stop/start ethos that sees short burst of ringing noise pepper the songs, show that Totem Skin aren't going for the easy listening approach. In fact, they seem to get heavier as He Wears A Mask And His Face Grows To Fit It and We Wished To Free The Captured Foxes attest. We Wished To Free The Captured Foxes is especially jarring with its atonal riffs and high-pitched screaming.

Closer, Our Hearts Were Gardens is almost longer than the previous five put together. This is where Totem Skins slow, bass-ridden sludge sound infiltrates their crusty hardcore. It shows a different side to them and one which sees the throttle back on the pace and instead lean on brooding, menacing atmospherics and clever rhythms. It's also where their screamo influences show themselves too. Full of cathartic energy, they lurch forward, not one-minute sounding awkward or cumbersome. They stick with the tried and tested instruments, don't use any artsy electronics and allow the production to give the rough and ready sheen that gives this EP more heart and soul.

If you were standing atop of a cliff watching the rest of civilisation crash into the sea, this EP would be what you'd be listening to. It's the sound of humanity dropping to its knees and pleading forgiveness for the wrongs it's done. If this is anything to go by, the new record will be very special indeed!

Listen to These Ghosts Are Haunting Ours Halls here:-



The EP is available as a name-your-price download from Totem Skin's bandcamp page.

As well as that, here's  the stream of Kargt Landskap, which will appear on their up-coming 12":-



Keep your eyes fixed on Dog Knights Productions for more news on the 12" here - https://www.facebook.com/dogknights

Totem Skin Bigcartel - http://totemskin.bigcartel.com/
Totem Skin Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/totemskin

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Demon Lung - Pareidolia EP


Now for something unplanned and unexpected. Staying the US, I decided to write about Demon Lung, as this EP was on my review list and I was intrigued. It has extra meaning to, as Demon Lung have recently signed with Candlelight Records! This Vegas, female-fronted doom quartet have had quite the rise over the last twelve months. After releasing this EP in 2012 alongside a split with The Fat Dukes of Fuck, they found themselves signing to Candlelight Records, whom they released their 2013 debut full-length The Hundredth Name through earlier this year.

Tracklist::-

1. Lament Code
2. Sour Ground
3. Death Mask
4. Pareidolia

Demon Lung kick out the jams like only an American doom band could. It's all about the guitars on Pareidolia, their debut EP. The raging, grooving intro lasts for well over a minute, before Shanda Fredrick's vocals ring out.  Opening with Lament Code gives listeners an instant hit of what Demon Lung are about. There’s plenty of occult temperament in Shanda's voice, which more than matches the power coming from the instrumentation. The bass-heavy guitar sound brings the whole atmosphere down during the verses and then unleashes a more stoned feel during the instrumental bridge sections. That's only the first song too!

Sour Ground has an intro that makes up a quarter of the song. This song is shorter and less technical than the opener, but no less powerful where the guitars are concerned. The drums sit in the background, only slightly audible when competing with those guitars. The vocals become almost trance like. They relax a bit with the variation and textures during Death Mask. The riffs are more simplified and minimal, which suit the vocal melodies well. The barrage of sound still persists when they hit their stride, but when they fall into a full-on doom laden dirge mid-way through, they take on a whole new being. They get heavier and more sinister with every blast.

By the time the title track emerges, you'll be paralysed; such is the overall effect of Demon Lung. Anyway, there's not really much more I can say about this EP without repeating myself. You'll just have to listen to it for yourselves!

Listen to the EP here:-


You can buy the EP via digital download on the bandcamp page above, as well as t-shirts.

Physical copies of the EP are out of stock.

Demon Lung Website - http://demonlungband.com/
Demon Lung Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/demonlungband

Dead Church/Faction Disaster - Split 7"/CD


Seriously, what else is there to do on a Wednesday night when there's no football on? Mind you, I watched the England world cup qualifier last night and it was terrible! Oh well, there's always the comfort of heaviness to keep me company. When planning this review I was thinking that's it's been a long time since I've featured any grind/power-violence bands for a prolonged period of time, i.e. more than one band in a month. That's where Mannequin Rein come in, as they've given me the honour of checking out and reviewing some of their latest releases, starting with the new Dead Church/Faction Disaster split. I recently reviewed Dead Church's split 5" with Suffering Mind, but this split gives me the chance to hear more tracks by the band. It's also the first time I've featured Faction Disaster.

For those who don't know, both bands come from Michigan. Dead Church hail from Detroit and Faction Disaster are from Gaylord, which may explain why they decided to play grind!

Tracklist:-

1. Dead Church – Trust fund Punks
2. Dead Church – One To Blame
3. Dead Church – At War
4. Dead Church – Victim Of Praise
5. Faction Disaster – Liquid Lunch
6. Faction Disaster – Throw Up
7. Faction Disaster – Commander Cody's Dreads 

Dead church put four songs forward on side A of this split. In spite of being a PV band, Dead Church have got riffs! Those riffs are immediately apparent in opener Trust Fund Punks. One To Blame is seventeen seconds of thrashing, grinding mayhem. Nothing more, nothing less. With At War, Dead Church conjures up that rock n roll swagger with some ace down-tuned guitar, which at times is syncopated. The drums flail madly in the background and when they groove towards then end, it all just swirls and moulds together in one big slab of distortion. Closing with Victim of Praise, they sound as thick and as loud as they did at the start. The screams are higher and more squalid and counterbalance the low growls perfectly. These four tracks don't last much more than six minutes and that's just how we like it.

So it's onto Faction Disaster, who only contribute three for some reason. Liquid Lunch starts with some ringing, chamber music style noise before unleashing some raw as hell, feedback-ridden noise. They have more of a live sound on their side of the split and he guitars sound pretty gruesome. Throw Up will make you do just that throughout it's forty-nine second expanse. Commander Cody's Dreads begins with a sample and then blasts like mad. The closing fifteen seconds are filled with a short but awesome groove section and then more of the piercing guitar feedback. Both bands offer up different variations of grind/pv. Dead Church are slightly more polished and focused if I may be so bold. Faction Disaster are more stop/start and the live sound gives you the sense of their energy. Both are awesome though!

You can't stream the whole of this split online, but you can stream the Faction Disaster side via their bandcamp page. As always, I've put it below:-



Also, as you'll have worked out from the title of this review, this split is out on both CD and Vinyl.

You can pick it up from Mannequin Rein Recordings here - http://mannequinrein.storenvy.com/.

Dead Church Website - http://www.dead-church.com
Dead Church Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/deadchurch
Faction Disaster Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/factiondisaster
Mannequin Rein Recordings Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/mannequinrein

Monday, 9 September 2013

Sexcrement - Sloppy Seconds


Boston, Massachusetts has been know for it's swelling but vital metalcore scene in recent years, but underneath that there's more than meets the eye. Take Relapse Records death metal band Revocation for example, or the subject of this review Sexcrement. Beginning in 2005, Sexcrement have been playing depraved death metal with just a hint of sexual perversion, which has seen them release a demo, a single, an EP and two full-lengths in that time. Sloppy Seconds was released last year through US death/grind label Comatose Music. They also have a sense humour, which I guess is a must if your singing about there choice of subject!

Tracklist:-

1. Heard It Through the Rape Vine
2. Chemical Handcuffs
3. Well Hungover
4. Heels Up
5. Trucker Bombed
6. Assisted Living Lapdance
7. Obestiality
8. Ride Johnny Ride

That sense of humour is immediately obvious in opening track Heard It Through The Rape Vine. This is pure heavy, groovy death metal with deeply growled vocals and head smashing rhythms. The guitars are tuned low as well, which means you get that dissonant and sometime atonal riffage associated with death. There's a hint of Boston's metalcore lineage within Sexcrement's riffs, but the good sort, not the modern overproduced carp! Sexcrement play with plenty of sass too, as buried within extremity is plenty of rock n roll groove. You can definitely sense it in second song Chemical Handcuffs, which leaves nothing to the imagination. 

Well Hungover (another great song-title) is as too the point as the previous two tracks. Sexcrement's ability to groove grows throughout the song, as does their song writing. Their use of samples bridges the gaps between songs well. They are at their off-kilter best with Heels Up. The ability of the band to weave modern metal elements into their death metal makes for a good listen, especially if you're new and treading your first steps into the world of extreme metal! That said, the members of Sexcrement have been around for a long time in modern terms. Serving time in an endless array of fellow Boston death metal bands.

In terms of variation, Sloppy Seconds has lots of it the guitar, which comes across during songs like Trucker Bombed, but overall the sound remains largely the same throughout. Sexcrement don't go a mile a minute though, which is good, especially if you're not a fan of bands that shoehorn every sub-genre they can into one song. All you need is fast, heavy music, which Sexcrement bring in spades. Oh, and also I defy anyone not to try and think about what Assisted Living Lapdance is about!

They produce their shortest and most brutal hit with Obestiality right before their mammoth thirteen-minute epic, Ride Johnny Ride. Have they pulled a death metal rock opera out the used g-strings of their victims? The answer to that is not quite, but what they have done is produced a truly progressive song full of clever flourishes. It shows their expansive side as musicians and their absolute disdain for convention. Ride Johnny Ride is almost half the length of the entire album, but for that you get a time signature shifting song full of classy riffage and focused ideas.

At about four and a half minutes in, there's some thick slow riffs ala Seven Sisters of Sleep and more of that metalcore influence. Sexcrement probably won't like me comparing them to what many consider metal-light, but it's undeniably there and it makes their music more listenable and relevant. I have to admit, I did wonder what they would do for thirteen minutes, but my expectation was simply blown to pieces by the song.  You may feel a bit cheated towards the end, as the song closes with four minutes of silence, but it's not an issue in the grand scheme of things.

Sexcrement have the chops and musical technique to really go place, so lets hope that with their new album being written/recorded as I write this, that they pull it out of the bag and take their game to the next level.

Sloppy Second isn't streaming on the Internet as far as I can tell, but you can pick it up here from Comatose Music - http://www.comatosemusic.com/store/ 

Sexcrement Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/sexcrement 
Comatose Music Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Comatosemusiclabel

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Poisonous doctrines - Baneful Genesis Records


Having dedicated last week to black metal in all it's forms and before I meander off to explore music of different heavy persuasions, I felt it right to do another label feature. Talking of label features, they seem to springing up everywhere. I'm not saying mine are unique, but I've recently seen them in one well known, monthly UK extreme metal magazine. It's good though, because they're giving columns and pages to labels and bands that smaller blogs, like mine, have been repping for a long time. It's ace to see those labels and bands getting more attention.

Anway, back to the task in hand. Baneful Genesis Records came to my attention about 18 months ago now and after I reviewed the Gravecode Nebula/Krieg split 7" that the label released, I've been trying to find the time to check out their other releases. Now's the time. Like the majority of fledgling labels, Banefule Genesis is run for the love of the music and mixes black metal releases with doom releases, to create a terrifyingly dark aesthetic. As with similar labels, Baneful Genesis keeps a low profile, preferring mystery over celebrity.

Spiculum Iratus - Summa Anti-Thelogica


I'm starting with a record that was released back in 2009. Spiculum Iratus hail from California yet play the nastiest black metal you could wish for, which is definitely at odds with their surroundings. Summa Anit-Theologica is currently the band's only full-length, following their earlier demo and split with Bestial Incanation. Spiculum Iratus are currently on haitus, but are writing a new record and their bassist is in a band called Pendulous, who have just released an EP digitally through Baneful Genesis. This six-tracker was mastered by James Plotkin of Khanate, which is sure to be a sign of it's quality.

Tracklist:-

1. Prolegomena
2. Orations Recited Through the Mouths of the Jawless
3. The Miracle of Malignity
4. Dismantle of the Sensus Divinitatus
5. St. Mlesna
6. Expurgated Omnipotence

(Photo by Terrorist Photography)

I always get a huge sense of anticipation when I sit down to listen to an unfamiliar band for the first time. Spiculum Iratus begin with an atmospheric song in the form of Prolegomena. It's laced with occasional growls and shrieks, while maintaining a haunting ambience thanks to the guitars. It's very much an intro track that builds atmosphere before the band unleashes their full, blackened majesty. 

Oration Recited Through The Mouths of The Jawless is where Spiculum Iratus open up and unleashes demons. The rawness in the production gives the music a cavernous sensibility and a live sound. It really makes it feel like they’re in the room with you. Orations... is also the most expansive song on the album, due to it's length. There's plenty of time and space to allow Spiculum Iratus to explore their occult, anti-religious black metal. There's melody buried within the music from the guitars. The drums provide a battering of epic proportions thanks to almost continuous blast beats and the shrieks pierce you synapse with every rasping breath.

Midway through, those shrieks are replaced by chanting, which add another layer of menace to the music alongside the irregular noise and crashing cymbals. It's certainly uneasy listening and sets out the pitch for the rest of the album. It amazes me how bands can conjure so much negativity and pain in their music. It almost feels like a true possessing on minds as opposed to just a front. The atmosphere seems to change as The Miracle of Malignity beings. The riffs at the start present more magisterial melody and it's more prominent during the opening verse. The rest of the band carries on with their aural and sensory assault, providing a dark lesson in extremity. Different people will have different opinions on what constitute black metal nowadays, but there's no escaping from the fact that this is pure, cold and disheartening in a way that only true black metal can be.

The sampled spoken word that Spiculum Iratus place in between songs is equally as thought provoking as the music itself. I don't know how they keep their momentum going, as they blast through Dismantle Of The Sensus Divinitatus, but they do and it continues to rattle your brain. One thing that people may not pick up on instantly is the power of the bass in their music. It rumbles in the background providing a devilish tone, even though it's semi-obscured by the drumming. This lowness helps to keep things in check and adds a lot to the bands overall sound. There are some great rhythms hidden in St. Mlesna. The echo on the vocals adds depth and a sense of there being multiple entities screaming into the mic. The introspective section during St. Mlesna is a moment for brief contemplation before the songs second half. The guitars here soar on their own, before the bands blackened noise permeates through the calm again. There's groove during that second part though and a grander feel at times, with a more considered approach being taken by the band.

The wall of sound that continues on Expurgated Omnipotence is a savage way for Spiculum Iratus to end their torment. They are as powerful with their last chord as they are with their first. It may be an acquired tasted, but that's the point and if you like getting lost in a record and letting you imagination run wild, then nothing beats a record like this. I may not be the kvltist of reviewers when it comes to black metal but I know that great art and music needs to be appreciated. Spiculum Iratus have extremity and beauty in equal measure.

Hear it in it's entirety here:-



A digital download version Summa Anti-Theologica can be purchased from the above link.

The CD can be purchased from the Baneful Genesis Records online store here http://www.banefulgenesis.com/cds-2.html

Spiculum Iratus Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Spiculum-Iratus

Icon of Phobos - Icon of Phobos


My next review features black metal band Icon of Phobos, who formed in 2010 and released their debut album through Baneful Genesis Records a year later. Another black metal horde from California, featuring ex members of labelmate Spiculum Iratus and of doom band Dona Eis Requiem. Heck, as I write this review, Icon of Phobos will have support the mighty Marduk in LA of all places! They've had some pretty awesome live shows recently, including in support of Abigail Williams and alongside VON at Ritual of The Black Mass, plus they have been writing a new album as well,

Tracklist:-

1. Intro/Revelations of the Void
2. Harbingers of Ruin
3. The Shrouded Worm
4. Analgesia
5. Shape of Failure
6. Misogyny in the Flesh
7. Ecstasy in Death/Outro


The intro to Icon Of Phobos sounds like it was recorded in a rancid sewer (in the best possible sense of course!). You know the type, where rats and all manner of other ugly beasts reside.  After the initial ringing feedback, the walls of thick guitars greet you during Revelations of The Void. The drums keeping a low profile in the mix and the growls are low bellows. The doom elements within this first song add to the murky atmosphere that Icon of Phobos's black metal promises.

They properly hit their stride with Harbingers of Ruin. There's some brilliant lead work at the start that makes way for over six minutes of metallic, dissonant chaos. There's plenty of symphonic clout in Icon of Phobos's music and they are perfectly conformable switching tempos at short notice. The production of this record allows Icon of Phobos to sound free and very expressive. The metallic edge from the guitars comes across really well and the album isn't restricted by poor volume thanks to the good mixing/mastering job. The band may not like for saying this but they have a real rock n roll element to them, when they unleash those ace solos! 

The Shrouded Worm is my standout track on the record. It seem to gather up all the energy of the band and combine it with strong songwriting, to make the song an all round epic. I can't believe that I've missed out on these guys until now. They really standout and I know that may be a clich├ęd statement for a writer to make, but they really do! You just have to blast Analgesia to appreciate where I'm coming from with this. It's one of their more brief songs, if you discount the intro/outro songs, but it benefits from that more urgent pace.

Icon of Phobos are at their most brutal during Shape of Failure. I don't brutal in the death metal sense though, but they play fast and seem to take their volume up a notch of two. They're a pretty expansive band, thanks to their doom influence, but with this song they seem to abandon that and head for solace in the black metal netherworld. The guitar solo is also the most majestic on the album, which further builds their credentials and stellar musicians. Misogyny In The Flesh pretty much takes the same tone and proceeds to batter you. The fact though that Icon of Phobos don't take their music to the extreme, actually makes them sound heavier. It's with that restraint that they can channel their negativity and energy into making excellently atmospheric black metal that seeps quality. 

Closing with outro track Ecstasy In Death, Icon of Phobos close out what has been an awesome record. I may two years late to the party in terms of their debut, but my god, I'm pretty damn glad that Baneful Genesis bought it to my attention as it's rather splendid. I urge you to listen to it intently.
Listen here:-



You can buy this album on CD here - http://www.banefulgenesis.com/cds.html

Icon of Phobos Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/iconofphobos,

Legions of Astaroth - Rites of Somatic Death 



This review is somewhat posthumous, as Legions of Astaroth appear to either be in hiatus or have split-up. Either way, this record is still worthy of a review. Legions of Astaroth hailed from the US city of Atlanta, Georgia. They formed in 2003 before releasing their first demo in 2004. After a string of further demo's, EP's and a spit, they produced this, their debut full-length in 2009. Initially available on CD, Baneful Genesis released it on double LP in early 2011. Both the sumptous black vinyl and the swirling cover art that make up Rites of Somatic Death point to a mighty album.

Tracklist:-

1. Introduction    
2. Science Of Threefold Initiation
3. Wherein The Sacred Manifest
4. Born Of The Ascendant Flame
5. Nescience Conjoined To Self
6. Chaos From The Infernal Mouth (Breathes Life Thus Duality)
7. Discipline Regarding The Will To Conjure
8. The Temple Within (Becomes As Essence Without)
9. Forms Made Flesh
10. Ritual of Somatic Death
11. Cursed Unto An Ageless Dawn


It's seems very uncanny that as Rites of Somatic Death beings, the storm clouds roll in outside my window.  Legions of Astaroth begin with the obligatory dramatic intro song. Deep breathing, whispers and haunting noise spans just over two minutes. The intro doesn't flow straight into Science of Threefold Initiation, but that's not an issue, as the song itself is a headlong blast of screaming black metal. The guitars and drums are frenzied while the vocals feature that familiar high-pitched shriek/growl formation. Now, I said I was going to be listening to fast stuff this weekend and this is the perfect way to kick off!

The pace and momentum of the previous song is carried through to Wherein The Sacred Manifest. This time, Legions of Astaroth vary their tones with more metallic guitar and some mid-paced passages, which ramp up the musicality. There are slower, doomier influences within their songwriting as well, as demonstrated by the second half of the song, where they slow things down to a more atmospheric pace before raging again for the minute or so. It's these elements and textures that contribute to an all-round listening experience. As you'd expect, the shorter songs are the more furious songs. Born of The Ascendant Flame really hits the spot in terms of flailing black metal. The pace at which the drums are played at throughout its three and a half minute length, is pretty astounding and the continual wall of sound from the guitars refuses to let up. The gargling, shrieking screams finish the cacophony in fine style.

After that chaos, Nescience Conjoined To Self takes a step back with some slightly off-kilter, slower rhythms during the intro section. Later on the band mixes the slower guitar with more fast drumming, to create quite an ambient effect. That ambient element does remain during the rest of the song, but with more of a metallic nod. The doom-laden, grooving close to the song is perfect for highlighting their ability to weave other sub-genre ideas into their music. Their most expansive track is Chaos From The Infernal Mouth (Breathes Life Thus Duality) shows off the production. The record was mastered again by James Plotkin and it's got that air of quality too it. The song itself is crafted from multiple parts that are moulded together with ease, to create something beautifully listenable but chillingly cold.

By the time Legions of Astaroth reach the second half of Rites of Somatic Death, they've well and truly reached their stride. Discipline Regarding The Will To Conjure keep the previous songs atmospherics and places it into a shorter, more concise song. They fly through the song and plunge straight into The Temple Within..., which features some great technical drumming. I was full of expectation after listening to the Icon of Phobos record a couple of days again and I have to admit that I've not been disappointed by this either. The craft and guile that's gone into producing this record has definitely paid off. The closing trio of songs rage through to an inevitable end, the journey that's been Rites of Somatic Death leaves your pretty awestruck. I know it took Legions of Astaroth nearly four years to make this album, but it was well worth it. 

Forms Made Flesh and the title track are standouts for me. The fact that they follow each other is pure coincidence. I don't what it is that makes them standout, but as I mentioned earlier, it seems as though Legions of Astaroth have truly hit their stride. Their songwriting and the way they deliver their tracks are solid statements from a band that would have gone on to much higher things had they nit split up. With closing track Cursed Unto An Ageless Dawn finishing the album with a flourish of breakneck riffage and chaotic drumming, they end Rites of Somatic Death the same they started it. After the more introspective songs it followed, this song breathes final life into the band and the album. A fitting send off for a band cut short and one, which should still be around. Lets hope they read this and decide to re-ignite their unholy blackened sound. I for one would be more than excited!

Listen here:-



You can buy the album digitally or in LP format from the above bandcamp page.

You can also buy the LP here - http://www.banefulgenesis.com/vinyl.html

Legions of Astaroth Facenook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Legions-of-Astaroth

Pendulous - Mirrored Confessions


For my final review, I'm fastforwarding to now and the latest release from Baneful Genesis. The four track EP Mirrored Confessions by L.A. doom band Pendolous, has been released in digital format. Pendulous formed in mid-2011 and share members with label-mates Spiculum Iratus. In a short space of time, Pendulous have been fortunate enough to share stages with the likes of Mournful Congregation and Behold The Monolith, as well as others including Destroy Judas, Anhedonist and Aldebaran. With the release of Mirrord Confessions, Pendulous finally get the opportunity to commit their unearthly doom to a recorded medium to help spread the word.

Tracklist:-

1. Disheveled
2. Reflections
3. Seeds
4. Mislaid


Pendulous open with Disheveled, which is made up of a quiet spoken-word sample with brooding keys in the background. It flows straight into the clean guitar intro of Reflections, which is initially crushing with a huge, sloth-like doom passage coming out of nowhere. The clean, Candlemass-inspired vocals come as a surprise. The riffs are slow but feature plenty of underlying melody and the drums inject some great, off-kilter rhythms and fills into the mix. Those cleanly sung vocals are replaced by rasping growls at certain points, to remind you that this is still extreme metal you're listening too! As with the doom template, Pendulous play it slow but the lead guitar work brings style to the music.

After the expansive effects of Reflections, Pendulous show more ferocity with Seeds. This time, they rely on their heavier side at the start before quietening down and adding more progressive elements to their music. While Mirrored Confessions only hints at things to come from Pendulous, thanks to both Disheveled and Seeds being longer songs, they are able to explore and create incredibly music doom which is made all the better by great production. 

Mislaid finishes Mirrored Confessions with haunting bells and another spoken-word sample. You only get two full songs on it, but that’s all that’s needed to make you want more. Excellent work from Pendulous and hats off to Baneful Genesis for helping to get it out into people's ears.

Hear it here:-



Mirrored Confessions is available from the above page as a name-your-price download.

Pendulous Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pendulousdoom

Baneful Genesis Records also has a sizeable distro and will have some great releases coming soon, including two LP's featuring Hateful Abandon and a double LP from Belgian doomsters Monads.

Keep up to date with new via their website http://www.banefulgenesis.com/index.html and via their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Baneful-Genesis-Records.