Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Dissection - Reinkaos (2006)

Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Country: Sweden

I need to start by saying that I can't believe it's been ten years since this album was released. I still vividly remember all the hype leading up to it like it was yesterday. Those were my formative metal days, and it's because of all the attention this album was getting that I ever even decided to check out Dissection. Now, The Somberlain and Storm the Light's Bane are definitely better than this, but I've been jamming this a lot again recently, and it's still undeniably an excellent record. A straight-up melodeath album with plenty of Maiden-esque harmonies and Gothenburg styled riffs, this is a simpler, more streamlined approach from a band that used to create quite complex music. Jon still sounds great and overall, this album is definitely worth your time. Tohu Tehom Theli Than Leviathan Tanin'iver Taninsam!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Abominable Putridity - The Anomalies of Artificial Origin (2012)

Genre: Brutal Slamming Death Metal
Country: Russia

I'm being completely honest when I say that I think most brutal death metal is complete garbage; apparently ripping off Suffocation and Cryptopsy is harder than you think. Add in the whole "slamming" aspect and what you're left with is essentially deathcore.. which you know, generally stinks. That being said, Abominable Putridity is the exemplification of brutal slamming death metal and yet they are fucking awesome. They don't do anything particularly different from their contemporaries, they are simply just better. It's the perfect blend of old-school technicality, indomitable grooves and intelligible gurgles. Oh yes, there are plenty of gurgles - I mean IT IS Matti FUCKING Way - but his clever interplay with the monstrous chugs works amazingly well, creating tons of sickeningly memorable chops in the process. Usually albums like this tend to blend together, and though the tracks here definitely share some similarities, the variety grooves and moshing sections still gives each song its own distinctive feel. This is slamming brutal death metal for fans of the genre, and people who thought they could never appreciate music like this. Recommended.

Slams of Infinity

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Piss Vortex - Piss Vortex (2014)

Genre: Grindcore/Sludge/Jazz
Country: Denmark

Jazz and grindcore have made surprisingly frequent acquaintances over the years. The complicated, semi-improvisational traits that comprise certain fields of the former combine well with the chaotic, balls-to-the-wall aggression so synonymous with the latter. This unlikely amalgam normally manifests itself in, quite frankly, barely comprehensible bedlam; flurries of sweeps, song structures that break the laws of music, and everything else besides. While this can be performed to a fantastic level (and indeed has been), it can also come across as a mere technical exercise, eschewing any attempt to connect with the listener to make room for auditory masturbation.  However, as the saying goes there is more than one way to skin a cat, and indeed there is more than one way of combining jazzy elements into grindcore. Copenhagen-based quartet Piss Vortex take a more coherent approach that focuses more on intelligent song structuring than flawless technicality.

Coherent, it should be stressed, does not mean that Piss Vortex are any less virtuosic than their contemporaries; the difference lies in the application of their music talents. Drummer Niclas Sauffaus offers up the most obviously impressive performance, with machine-gun kit rolls and intricate cymbal work underpinning the winding interplay of guitarist Christian Bonnesen and bass player Rasmus Moesby. While throughout his playing is stellar and consistent, on 'Beaten Womb' he goes as far to actually forming the skeleton of the entire track by the means of a 20 second solo at the start, which provides an infectious groove alongside the grimy riffing. While some tracks inevitably do fade into obscurity when considering the album as a whole, the appreciation for exciting, constantly shifting trackwriting means that there's plenty new to pick up on listen after listen.

Importantly though, despite all of their compositional ability, the resulting feeling after closer 'Our Maker's Invisible Hand' reaches its apocalyptic climax is one of pure, battered awe. Piss Vortex make use of a guitar tone as grim as their name would suggest in conjunction with nightmarish riffs and Sauffaus' terrific drumming to yield an experience not a hundred miles away from a more hardcore-influenced Gorguts. Additionally, a sludgy bass presence and vocalist Simon Stenbæk's mid-ranged roar contribute towards the doomier aesthetics on the slower tracks, and this adds a whole new dimension away from the fast-paced, aggressive riffs that savage much of the running time.

Rather than opt for a well-trodden style consisting of lightning-fast scales and start-stop song structures, Piss Vortex takes on a more controlled character that focuses more of the swing and feel of jazz than the technical elements, while still retaining the ability to leave the audience with the sensation of being hit in the face with a spade. By opting for a slightly more accessible vein this escapes much of the initial mindscrewing associated with the subgenre, but it arguably makes for a debut that only gets more intriguing with each listen.


Verwüstung - Beyond the Watercolor Sunset, We Feel New Life (2011)


Genre: Post-Black Metal
Country: United States

Post-black metal can be pretty hit or miss. A lot of the times, I find many bands to be pretty unbalanced, either leaning too heavily on the "post" elements, or not using them enough, rendering them ineffective. Verwustung is one-man band based in California that has nailed this dichotomy time and again. He's released quite few things over the years (which you can find for free, here) but Beyond The Watercolor Sunset, We Feel New Life is in my opinion, his best. Before I even get to the music, have to say I just love the optimism of the title, and the stark simplicity of that gorgeous album cover. I'm glad to say the music behind it all, is just as gorgeous. In one 29 minute monolith of a track, Verwustung takes your breath away with this atmospheric masterpiece. If Hvis Lyset Tar Oss-era Burzum and Godspeed! You Black Emperor had a baby, it would most certainly sound like this; that description in itself should be enough to convince you to check this out. Drenched in noisy euphoria, the track slowly builds, tension in every guitar strum until it just EXPLODES into a full-blown black metal cacophony. This is where that balance comes into play. There's enough tremolo picking, blast beats and necrotic vocals to satisfy any extreme metal listener, but melodically it has all the heartwarming beauty of post-rock. The length of the song may seem daunting, but it is a surprisingly easy listen, and oftentimes I feel like the track is actually a little too brief. It's a testament to just how well crafted and dynamic the song is. Recommended. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Fuath - "Blood" (2015)

Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
Country: Scotland

Fuath is the side project of Andy Marshall, the man behind black metal band Saor. For those of you unfamiliar with Saor, do yourself a favor and check them out immediately - 2014's Aura is an exceptional atmospheric black metal release delving in resplendent Celtic melodies and wondrous tales that will make you want to drop what you're doing and buy the first ticket out to Scotland. Fuath in a way is very similar; Marshall definitely has developed his style as far as crafting atmospheric black metal, but as the cover art would suggest, his newest endeavor transports you to snow-covered mountainsides as opposed to rolling green hills. It's actually very impressive how he's able to compartmentalize various influences and write projects behind one certain motif - this one being winter. Inspired by classic black metals like Burzum and Darkthrone, premiere track "Blood" is an exciting excursion into the frostbitten wilderness. These days, "cold" black metal is a dime a dozen; every band and their mom strive to create a wintry atmosphere, and as result, that sound has become completely played out. Not only are bands now sounding too similar, but they fail utterly to reach the treacherous heights of the classic bands. Fuath succeeds where these bands fail, creating a compelling and fresh soundtrack to your winter season. If "Blood" is any indication, Marshall's upcoming with Fuath, I, will be fucking excellent. You can listen to the track below.

Monday, January 11, 2016

SQRM - Rodeo (2010)

Genre: Noise Rock/Hardcore
Country: United States

A few years back I wrote a ridiculously hyperbolic review for this album, where I meticulously deconstructed every aspect of it, from the cover, to the closing notes of "You Still Can't Live"; needless to say that review was a pretentious piece of shit. I went on to state how SQRM would change the face of hardcore with their downtempo and depressive style, and though I was DEAD WRONG, this is still one of my favorite hardcore albums ever. I love how fucking ugly it is. The album drips with a palpable sense of loathing - both self and outward; this is not your dad's hardcore record. The guitars drag themselves hopelessly from one transition to the next, moving to the beat of primitive percussion and asylum-worthy howls. The lyrics on this are either genius or ridiculous; it walks the line so perfectly, you're only left with the ambiguity. That's kind of what makes it so special though. Highly recommended (unless you're depressed, than you may want to steer clear.)


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Bone Awl - Meaningless Leaning Mess (2007)

Genre: Black Metal/Punk
Country: United States

Bone Awl have been hard at work creating some of the noisiest, filthiest, blackened filth since 2002; however, nothing they've ever done compares to Meaningless Leaning Mess. Though often credited as the scene leaders of blackened punk along with Sump, Sexdrome, and Grinning Death's Head, if it weren't for Bone Awl, none of the those bands would exist, as well as a thousand others that currently occupy the dark depths of the current black metal scene. They may be mentioned quite frequently, but I don't really feel like anyone really, REALLY appreciates how so much of the raw and punk-y black metal today stems from this heinous duo, and their apocalyptic take on two of music's most anti-social genres. It's hilarious because this release -and to a greater extent the whole discography of Bone Awl - is nothing but horribly produced three chord anthems that most people would consider to be absolute garbage. But that's also what makes them so awesome; there is no pretense, no kind of hook to draw people in... just one song after another of oddly catchy punk songs you can croak along too. Meaningless Leaning Mess is pure misanthropy set to d-beat drums, and crusty guitar riffs, and yet somehow it's become one of the most influential pieces of music to permeate black metal culture in decades. Recommended.

It's All Death

Friday, January 8, 2016

Arizmenda - Stillbirth In The Temple of Venus (2014)

Genre: Black Metal
Country: United States 

 Arizmenda is the sound of black metal losing its mind. That's what makes them so ***ING good; the trepidation you can't help but feel when listening to them. That spine-chilling sense of paranoia like something is creeping just behind you. When listening to Arizmenda, you don't feel safe. They wouldn't have it any other way.

For all the bands that deal with matters of mental torment, Arizmenda has, since their 2007 inception, been among the best. Their debut album Within the Vacuum of Infinity... was a harrowing experience of atmospheric black metal. Follow-up Without Circumference Nor Center emphasized the psychedelic subtleties of previous record, igniting that fervor into feverish delirium. After what seemed like an eternal three year wait, The Black Twilight Circle's most notorious band have dropped their most accomplished work to date, Stillbirth In The Temple of Venus.

Building on the foundation provided by 2013's glorious compilation Tliltic Tlapoyauak, Stillbirth In The Temple of Venus dispenses with the free-flowing songwriting of the band's previous full-lengths in favor of a style that's more deliberate and consciously structured. The brilliantly titled "Cum In Your Wound" contrasts blackened psychedelia with claustrophobic atmospheres to create a hallucinogenic effect, while "Innocence and Illness" opens with vibrant melodies before descending into a chasm of anxiety-filled darkness. As a whole, Stillbirth... thrives on the dichotomy between deranged melodies and the band's trademarked discordance. Though the album features much more of the former than ever before, tracks like "Satyriasis" proves its increased implementation only serves to accentuate the insanity of the latter.

It's so relieving to see Arizmenda diversify. For as good as their style was, it would have inevitably become stale. Here, we see them progress without losing the core elements that make them such a unique entity. Stillbirth In The Temple of Venus is a black metal album all fans of the genre absolutely must hear; you'd be crazy not to.