Tuesday 23 August 2022

Robust Split Series 1: #5 - Bomg/BongBongBeerWizards

Labels: Robustfellow Prods

Formats: Tape/Digital

Release Date: 24 Dec 2021


1. Bomg - Demagnetized

2. Bomg - Ixian Bore

3. BongBongBeerWizards - Melothrone

4. BongBongBeerWizards - Journey

5. BongBongBeerWizards - Meathead

6. BongBongBeerWizards - Summoning

I didn't realise it had been over a month since I reviewed number four in the Robust Split Series (Keepleer 18/Yanomamo). This is the fifth and final split tape in the series from Ukrainian label Robustfellow Prods, which brought together five stoner/doom bands from Ukraine and matched them alongside five similar bands from different corners of the world. This split features Bomg alongside Germany's BongBongBeerWizards. Bomg have been playing music together now for over a decade, with two full-lengths, an EP and two other splits to their name prior to this one. BongBongBeerWizards formed in 2017 and have released two full-lengths and an EP as well as their contribution here.

Looking back through the series, Bomg contribute the longest song of them all as one of their two songs here but before we get to that, there’s the small matter of their opener ‘Demagnetized’, which itself weighs in at nearly ten minutes. As with BongBongBeerWizards, Bomg are another new band to me, which has been a feature of this series. ‘Demagnetized’ begins as an instrumental jam that builds in volume and all kinds of weirdness. It’s a lot more bluesy/jazz-like, with some amazing guitar effects thrown in as well. At times it sounds like the members of Bomg are all playing different songs, but if you settle in and just listen it begins to make sense.

After that strangely soothing and hypnotic opener, it’s time for the ‘Ixian Bore’, which stretches to nearly twenty minutes and is immediately much heavier than ‘Demagnetized’, thanks to the low, rumbling bass. Again, it sounds like a semi-improv jam but that’s fine, as it suits Bomg’s stoner/doom vibe perfectly. It’s filled with spoken-word samples that sound like they’ve been put through some kind of effects as well. It all adds to the overall feeling of otherworldliness you get from Bomg’s music.

As I mentioned above, BongBongBeerWizards are another unknown prospect and whereas the former were more unpredictable in approach, the latter are heavier, with a formula that sits further into the sludge camp on opener ‘Melothrone’. The vocals cry out as if they were delivered by somebody whose in possession of an all-knowing prophecy, while around them the music spells out a hellish fate. ‘Journey’ is much more upbeat sounding, with it’s ambient atmosphere and clean singing lifting the mood with plenty of cinematic tones.

That upbeat mood is snatched away from you somewhat by saxophone tones that sound like distressed whale song. I guess that’s not totally left field given BBBW’s own enthusiasm for experimentation. The vocals are used more sparingly here and in their place, you’re left with truly rumbling bass, crawling percussion and guitar work that again invokes those whales. BBBW’s final song ‘Summoning’ is their longest at just over ten-minutes long and in my semi-sleepy state, it threatens to send me to the land of nightmares. It’s as chilling as it is ritualistic. It’s very hypnotic, which is definitely a staple trait of any decent stoner/doom band in my opinion and despite it’s sloth-like tempo, doesn’t feel like a ten minute song,. 

What a way to end this first split series from Robustfellow. Both Bomg and BongBongBeerWizards are the perfect pairing in terms of experimentation and just downright heaviness. They deserve much more airtime, as do the other eight participants here. This review series has been a really fun journey and one that I’ll be revisiting over and over again. 

You can stream and purchase the entire series digitally below, where it's also available as a five tape set, or as individual tape (both while stocks last):-

Bomg - https://www.facebook.com/BOMGband

BongBongBeerWizards - https://www.facebook.com/bongbongbeerwizards/

Robustfellow Prods - https://www.facebook.com/RobustfellowProds

Saturday 20 August 2022

Great American Ghost - Torture World

Labels: MNRK Heavy

Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital

Release Date: 20 Jan 2022


1. Kingmaker

2. Torture World

3. Womb

4. Death Forgives No One

There's this huge new wave of American heavy hardcore and deathcore that I'm only just catching up with now. Great American Ghost make up a part of that wave, including the likes of Enterprise Earth and Sentinels (and no doubt many more I'm missing). Great American Ghost's latest EP Torture World was released via MNRK Heavy in January. Prior to this EP, the trio have released three albums and an earlier two-song EP (all since 2015), so they're pretty prolific!

If like me you’ve made it through a tough week, let some steam off with this beast of an EP. Torture World plays on the blurred lines between hardcore, djent and thrash. ‘Kingmaker’ is definitely heavy and groovy with blasting percussion, harsh vocals and even breakdowns; catering for the heavy music fan that still enjoys a bit of an ear worm too.

What I mean by that last sentence is that this EP is a modern, melodic take on hardcore. Less chaotic and more catchy. There’s nothing wrong with that though as the title-track ‘Torture World’ exhibits. It’s no surprise to know that this release was produced by Will Putney (A Day To Remember, Knocked Loose, The Amity Affliction and more). The contrast between their melodic side and their death metal/core side is evident towards the end of the song and it’s pretty damn good.

Their sound is heavily rooted within modern death metal/hardcore to my ears, which aren’t always spot on but when listening to ‘Womb’ I do hear thrash poking through as well, especially within that epic solo towards the end. I guess this is one of those reviews where I’ve gotten too hung up on genres/sub-genres again, but with that being said, I describe what I hear and hope that through these words, people can find new music that they love.

Final song ‘Death Forgives No One’ is also the EP’s longest, yet it flies by all too quickly. It’s really listenable and is bloody heavy in places too. I’ve read that the band appreciates Meshuggah a great deal and I hear their influence in the music for sure. This is a really strong EP from a band that has a lot of experience behind them now. 

You can stream and purchase Torture World on all formats via Bandcamp below:-

Great American Ghost - https://www.facebook.com/GreatAmericanGhost

MNRK Heavy - https://www.facebook.com/MNRKHeavy

Wednesday 17 August 2022

Lyed - The Immolated Earth

Labels: Middle-Man Records/Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 18 Jul 2017


1. Heaven Is Not Enough

2. Halos Of Asura

3. You Are With Me

4. When The Ashes Shape

5. Autobiography From Dead Ends

6. Morningstar

7. The Last Laugh

8. Velvet Nightfall

9. The Light That Swallowed The World

The latter half of my working day today left me thinking what life would be like if I was doing something different. For example, writing and running this blog full time, which would be so rad. Alas, it's something I've thought about many times before and it still feels unattainable. At least I still have it as an escape though. This evening I'm writing about the 2017 full-length from Texan screamo/metalcore  band Lyed, that was released via both Middle-Man Records and Zegema Beach Records. The Immolated Earth was Lyed's third release after their debut 2014 EP Between My Claws and their 2015 split with Joliette. They also released a split with Vientre in 2020 and are still active as far as I can tell (please correct me if I'm wrong).

I’m very much in the mood for some heavier, more metallic screamo this evening and the sub one-minute opener ‘Heaven Is Not Enough’ on The Immolated Earth hits the spot right away with a big hardcore/metalcore-like approach. The percussion and bass are a lot more full-on, the guitars and their riffs are chunkier while the vocals are definitely angry enough. ’Halos of Asura’ is pacier yet more melodic, with that noticeable American screamo vibe. More straightforward than I was expecting, but in a good way. Kinda in the same vein as some of the late 90’s/early 00’s metalcore-leaning bands I guess, like Since By Man and The Bled (thanks OPENmind/SATURATEDbrain!). 

Mathcore makes it’s play on the album too with plenty of time-signature changes on ‘You Are With Me’, which at times sounds industrial during the mid-section thanks to the blasting drums. ‘When The Ashes Shape’ is more emotional before it’s taken up a notch. Using that feeling to describe the song is still apt though. Lyed bring back the glory days (for me anyway) with ‘Autobiography From Dead Ends’. It reminds of days spent endlessly listening to Hopesfall, The Rise (who coincidentally were also from Austin, Texas) and Snapcase. Enough said I think!

The album’s second half begins with ‘Morningstar’, which acts as an instrumental interlude of sorts, with a brooding atmosphere that keeps your attention and your anticipation up before ‘The Last Laugh’, which is very different indeed. It’s very upbeat and hardcore-laden, but not in a tough guy way. It’s very honest and true, which is the same for the whole album. Penultimate song ‘Velvet Nightfall’ is really well put together for one with a more chaotic facade. Again, those chunkier riffs are present up front and it’s a great example of Lyed in full flow. I’m embarrassed to say that I missed The Immolated Earth when it was originally released (and not by choice). I think it was due to the old adage of too much music and not enough time.

It’s the album’s longest song ‘The Light That Swallowed The World’ that closes proceedings in a similar vein to ‘Velvet Nightfall’. The angular metalcore/screamo really comes to the fore here and the addition of clean vocal harmonies only make the enjoyment/nostalgia stronger. I read an article online earlier today about how people in their 30s are becoming disconnected with music and are less willing to search out new music. I couldn’t imagine it, which sounds obvious given that I’m still maintaining the same music blog I started when I was in my early 20s, but now at 36, while not as active as I was gig-wise I still actively seek out both new and old music I haven’t heard before. Lyed’s The Immolated Earth is one such body of music and it brings me great joy. I will be seeking out a physical copy too!

You can stream and purchase The Immolated Earth digitally on Lyed's bandcamp page below:-

Lyed - https://www.facebook.com/lyedtx

Physical copies are available from the labels below:-

Middle-Man Records - https://middlemanrecords.storenvy.com/products/lyed-the-immolated-earth-12

Zegema Beach Records CAN/INTL - http://www.zegemabeachrecords.com/zegema-beach-releases/lyed 

Middle-Man Records - https://www.facebook.com/middlemanrecords

Zegema Beach Records - https://www.facebook.com/zegemabeachrecords

Sunday 14 August 2022

Soreeyes - Sleep Waves

Labels: Morbid And Miserable Records
Formats: CD/Digital
Release Date: 15 Oct 2021


1. Drenched
2. Dead Before Living
3. Low
4. Beside Me
5. Rainy Days
6. Sleep Waves

Trying to get some writing done early today in case I venture out to enjoy what's left of this warm weather. Something tells me that the music of Ohio's Soreeyes may be better suited to darker evenings though. Sleep Waves is the first full release to come from Soreeyes, which is the brainchild of Runa Klem, who performs all instruments/vocals here. It was written to reflect what Runa and her family have experienced (including self-harm, addiction, abuse and even death). I'm not going to try to pretend I understand what Runa and her family have been through in the past, but I hope the creative process was positive.

Soreeyes sit in the metalgaze/shoegaze camp, which is a sub-genre that I’ve been enjoying more and more. Opener ‘Drenched’ is woven with gentle melodies, hypnotic tempos and harsh vocals that are surrounded by the instrumentation, as if they’re being hugged and held by the secure arms of a loved one. There’s a doom-like intro to ‘Dead Before Living’, which retains a similar tempo throughout. The way that Runa weaves all of the different elements together here is so skilful, especially as it sounds so natural. The main focus of my attention during this song is the guitar work, as the lead is used heavily throughout to provide melody and solo-esque vibes. It’s shorter than the album’s opener but as such, it has more impact.

‘Low’ borrows more from black metal, but only subtly. The percussion takes more of a lead, which is perfect because the song seems to come from a heavier place, especially where the vocals are concerned. It matches it’s title for sure, in terms of mood and atmosphere. At times when Runa is singing it reminds me a bit of Emma Ruth Rundle, especially during ‘Beside Me’, which is the shortest song on Sleep Waves and acts as a bridge between ‘Low’ and penultimate song ‘Rainy Days’.

‘Rainy Days’ exhibits all that is good about metalgaze/shoegaze to me, in the same way that Astronoid’s music does. That’s not a bad musical comparison, though it’s not meant to be a close one as Soreeyes is an original project and not a copyist. The album comes to an end with title-track ‘Sleep Waves’, which is the noisiest and most maddening song here. Filled with feedback, rumbling bass and unsettling atmosphere, it could be the musical equivalent of being trapped in a nightmare (maybe?). The description on the bandcamp page says that Sleep Waves should be listened to at very loud volume. Doing so really brings it to life, especially during this final song.

It’s clear that Sleep Waves was written and performed with a lot of emotion, which comes across in the music. As with all art, it can be interpreted in different ways but when listening to it as a singular entity, it’s clear that Soreeyes merely make’s music for herself. That’s how it should be in the end. Compliments must also go to Morbid And Miserable Records for championing a band so local to them. I for one will be checking out more bands from Ohio (USA) now.

You can stream and purchase Sleep Waves digitally from Soreeyes below:-

Morbid And Miserable Records - https://www.facebook.com/morbidandmiserable/

Thursday 11 August 2022

Black Wound/Skullsceptre - Deterioration Of Light

Labels: Dry Cough Records

Formats: Tape/Digital

Release Date: 07 Oct 2021


1. Black Wound - Rusted Teeth

2. Skullsceptre - Inferno From Beyond

3. Skullsceptre - Upon The Cross

I really must stop using the warmest evenings of the year to write about slow and heavy music. I'm pretty sure I did something similar during the July heatwave, but I just can't help myself. This here split features Swedish death/doom trio Black Wound, whom I wrote about in June and fellow Swede's Skullsceptre, with this split featuring their first recorded material. Deterioration Of Light was released on tape (limited to 100 copies) by UK label Dry Cough, who also released Black Wound's previous EP To The Endless Depths, as well as digitally. Tapes are sold out.

The air is so still this evening with barely any breeze, which means having my window open does nothing at all apart from spread this aural filth even further. Black Wound’s up first with their one and only track ‘Rusted Filth’, which proves my description in the previous sentence was correct, but in a good way. Slow, bass-heavy and raw death/doom that’s primed for tape player real-estate. The vocals are equally as low and are used quite sparingly given the song’s playing time. Definitely heavily rooted in the old-school and all the better for it. It’s very atmospheric too though as the second half demonstrates, when Black Wound venture further down the doomy path with slower and darker tempos. 

Skullsceptre fly straight out of the speakers on their first song ‘Inferno From Beyond’, which is made up of a higher tempo version of death metal, though it still takes it’s influences from the genre’s forefathers. It’s no great surprise really given the death metal royalty that came out of Sweden back in the day. The percussion is faster as you’d expect, while the bass and guitar work is more frenetic and punk-filled. The vocals again are deeper in tone, suiting the music perfectly. Split closer ‘Upon The Cross’ is maniacal in it’s delivery, much in the same vein as Skullsceptre’s first song but coupled with a grin-inducing guitar solo and frightening dual-vocals, it really hits the spot.

This split is over all too quickly. Both Black Wound and Skullsceptre shine new light on the Swedish death metal scene, even if it only lights up the gloomier alleys of it’s underground. The torch never burns out but merely passes on to the next. I know there’s been further material from Black Wound (that I’ll be writing about at a later date) but here’s hoping for more from Skullsceptre as well. Until then though, this split is more than worthy.

You can stream and purchase Deterioration Of Light digitally below:-

Black Wound - https://www.facebook.com/blackwound

Skullsceptre - https://www.facebook.com/skullsceptre

Dry Cough Records - https://www.facebook.com/DryCoughRecords

Tuesday 9 August 2022

Majorel - Restless In Memory

Labels: Zegema Beach Records

Formats: Tape/Digital

Release Date: 04 Apr 2017


1. A Simple Retreat

2. Unversed, A Conscious Abandonment Of Surroundings

3. Attempting Coherence In Form And Intent

4. Until The Well Runs Dry

5. Disrupting Moonwake

This is the 76th Zegema Beach release that's been featured on this blog in total (if my maths serves me correct). Granted, a number of those releases were featured prior to me starting this review series and I know that I've missed one earlier release (which, I'll circle back round to at a later date). Majorel existed for a very short length of time (at least I don't think they're active anymore) and this tape was their first release back on 2017, with their second being the 4-way 10" Desolate Hands Move The Hour with Cady, Agak and Come Regalia, which was also released by ZBR a year later. Majorel featured notable musicians who were/are currently in Karoshi, Apostles Of Eris, In Wolves Clothing and Swan Of Tuonela, plus a whole host of others. 

The screamo/hardcore scene in Richmond, Virginia (USA) has always been very fertile and Majorel more than staked their claim for recognition when they released Restless In Memory. ‘A Simple Retreat’ opens proceedings in truly driving, violent fashion but also with a notable emo layer. You could call it emoviolence or screamo, but in truth it’s got a bit of everything. Precise instrumentation where both the percussion and guitars are clear, while the vocals are heart-wrenching and also utterly piercing. 

Emoviolence might have been an apt descriptor here as ‘Unversed, A Conscious Abandonment Of Surroundings’ flies by in a whirlwind of dramatic heaviness. There isn’t anything blackened about it per se but there is that feeling about it. Maybe it’s the anxious riffs and the orchestral melody that they create.’ Attempting Coherence In Form And Intent’ is the most progressive sounding track on the EP for sure, whether that was intentional or not. Off-kilter musicianship that’s beautifully delivered alongside an undercurrent of dare-I-say early metalcore, maybe?. Either way, it’s killer.

Penultimate song ‘Until The Well Runs Dry’ is a slower building number that keeps the anticipation high with layered volume and switches in tempo that promise to break out but don’t. Controlled songwriting that keeps you hooked until the end. It’s left to ‘Disrupting Moonwake’ to close out the EP in the most suspense-filled way. It’s violent beginning gives way to an introspective mid-section that grows in the same way that Envy’s music does. The final breaths are made up of Majorel’s angular hardcore. 

Another in a long line of great ZBR releases but no label is bigger than the bands they are home to and Majorel count as one of ZBR’s best residents. They may not be active right now but at least there are some things to remember them by. Tapes are still available (which, is crazy) so go grab em!

You can stream Restless In Memory and purchase it both on tape or digitally from Majorel below:-

Copies are long since sold out from Zegema Beach Records.

Majorel - https://www.facebook.com/majorelrva/

Zegema Beach Records - https://www.facebook.com/zegemabeachrecords

Wednesday 3 August 2022

AngelBlast - Throne Of Ashes 7"

Labels: Edged Circle Productions

Formats: Vinyl/Digital

Release Date: 28 Jan 2022


1. Throne Of Ashes

2. Tartarus

I'm not sure if there's been something in the water over the last fews days but both both my work life and blog life (if that's even a real thing) have been pretty damn good. Obviously, I've just jinxed it all but I'm going to press on regardless. It's time for another 7" review in the form of International death/black metal band AngelBlast and their latest EP Throne Of Ashes, which was released in late January on vinyl and digital formats via Norwegian label Edged Circle Productions. It's only the quartet's second release, following their 2019 7" EP Rotting Paradise, which was also released by Edged Circle. AngelBlast features members of In Aeternum, Necrophobic and Divinity (the Divinity from Calgary, Alberta to avoid confusion) amongst many others. 

There’s nowt like a midweek blast and tonight’s comes with extra spice from AngelBlast. The EP’s title track ‘Throne Of Ashes’ is a perfect slice of modern death/black metal that owes itself to the old-school. Now when I use the term modern, I’m not talking about the breakdown/deathcore style of death metal, but that somehow this sounds fresh without necessarily being so. Obviously, those behind AngelBlast know what they’re doing and are seasoned musicians, so creating something like this is no surprise at all. Percussion, bass, guitars and vocals are all top notch, while the addition of piano for atmosphere and melody does the trick too.

Second and final song ‘Tartarus’ is blistering right from the off. Raging kick-drums, blastbeats and solo work greet you within the first thirty-seconds, before AngelBlast throw themselves back into it. Orchestral/choral melodies sit in the background, while the technical prowess of the band is allowed to shine. There is a subtle murkiness flowing through both songs here, but as I say it’s only subtle and if anything it helps make things that bit dirtier. 

This is a real success of an EP. It’s good value musically at ten minutes in length and it proves that it’s better not to overdo things, in turn leaving listeners wanting more. Let’s hope for an album from AngelBlast soon though, as I can see both of their EPs getting worn out from all the spins!

For fans of: Necrophobic, Malevolent Creation, Divinity, Castrator and Inhuman Condition

You can stream and purchase Throne Of Ashes on both digital and vinyl formats below:-

AngelBlast - https://www.facebook.com/AngelBlast666

Edged Circle Productions - https://www.facebook.com/edgedcircleproductions

Monday 1 August 2022

Dome Runner - Conflict State Design

Labels: Self-Released/Starving Light Collective

Formats: Digital/CD

Release Date: 12 Aug 2021


1. Fuji Cracks

2. Imprisoned Existence

3. Unfollow

4. Impure Utility Of Authoritarian Power Structure

5. The Undemonizing Process

6. In Pain

7. Expire

8. Exit Design

Debut album Conflict State Design was digitally released by Finnish industrial sludge band Dome Runner in August 2021. It was joined by a CD pressing from fellow Finnish label Starving Light Collective around the same time too (at least I believe that to be the case, but correct me if not). I was contacted by both the band and SLC separately sometime ago about it and in typical fashion, I'm finally writing about it now (sorry to all parties involved for the severe delay). Dome Runner started life in 2017 and released their debut demo in 2020.

I’ve never really gravitated towards industrial music but I’m aware that as time passes, tastes change and I am a lover of sludge, so Dome Runner gets my approval. Plus, they’re Finnish so that makes me happy. Album opener ‘Fuji Cracks’ is a bizarre mix of both the aforementioned sub-genres and the experimental, hypnotic nature of Dome Runner’s sound is obvious right away. Oppressive percussion sits alongside droning riffs and vocals that slide between truly harsh reverb-filled screams, and spacey clean singing. Plus the colours used on the cover art remind of Fear Factory’s Soul Of A New Machine (in a very round-about way). 

Obviously, there’s no great similarity between the two bands, aside from the Industrial leanings to my ears, but please tell me what you think. ‘Imprisoned Existence’, much like the album’s opener, contains repeating electronics and a barrage of down-tuned instrumentation. The vocals are delivered with the intensity of a powerviolence band in parts, which is definitely in keeping with the rest of the Starving Light Collective roster. That said, the music here is definitely more mind-opening.

‘Unfollow’ gives you elements of thrash and groove metal with it’s simple but very effective riffage. The crashing percussion/samples render you incoherent while Dome Runner aurally attacks from all directions. I forgot how genuinely refreshing it was to listen to something far removed from what’s been on rotation for me recently (death metal, screamo). So far this album is a great listen.

The longest song on the album is ‘Impure Utility Of Authoritarian Power Structure’ and it’s a swirling mix of tempos and heavy textures. I use the term textures loosely though, as the sound that’s achieved throughout this album is anything but gentle in feel. It takes control of all of your senses and thanks to clever song-writing and sludgy tones, it very much stays on the right side of becoming a noisy, incoherent collage of sound. 

I wasn’t doing Dome Runner a disservice with the final sentence of that last paragraph, as I really dig this and ‘The Undermonizing Process’ shows why, as the band comes into their own with an ear-splitting hybrid of fast/slowness. The more you take this in the more you hear of their musicality. It’s extreme but it’s infectious too and if there was a song that truly summed up Conflict State Design it would be ‘In Pain’, purely for it’s constant groove. It may seem like I’ve run out of things to say at this point, but I’m really just taking a moment to soak it all up. 

‘Expire’ breaks me from my trance and in doing so, it quite bizarrely transports me back to when I was watching Turnstile’s Glastonbury 2022 set on TV from earlier this year (must be the clean vocals). Again, I know neither band are similar in any way. It’s just the colours my head paints. Closer ‘Exit Design’ is a gentle, ambient piece that calmly calls time on proceedings in brilliant fashion.

This is another prime example of why you shouldn’t pass up on the opportunity to listen to something new, even if it does take you nearly a year to actually do it (as is my case). Dome Runner are another reason why I hold Finnish music in such high regard. Likewise, Starving Light Collective too. Please give this album a listen if you haven’t done so already.

For Fans Of: Godflesh, Napalm Death, Killing Joke, Kurokuma and Fear Factory

You can stream Conflict State Design and grab it as a name-your-price download from Dome Runner below:-

Dome Runner - https://www.facebook.com/iamdomerunner

I can't find any links to CD copies, but you can contact Starving Light Collective via the below link to see if any copies are still available:-

Starving Light Collective - https://www.facebook.com/starvinglight