Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Fleshless Abode...

Evil Spirit - The Imageless Mirror (2018)

Performed by just two members (Marcelo Aguirre on vocals and percussion, Ari Almeida on guitars and bass), this mini-album bridges the gap between the German group's first album, Cauldron Messiah, and their second LP, which is still cooking. Over the course of this release's five songs, the duo brew a mean atmosphere of low tones, strained strings, fierce wailings, and malefic attitude, bringing slow doom slogs and sludgy burners together with panache and a startlingly large-scale vibe. Heavy slams and gnarly riffs are in plentiful supply, there's a hefty Death SS cover which Evil Spirit does a great job of making into their own thing, and the music includes several creative surprises that are rather neatly worked into the flow. If you're like me, and haven't yet heard the group's first LP, this is a great introduction to the band's style and capabilities, and should leave you wanting to check out more of their catalog. Of course, that'll mean you'll end up hungering for that second album to show up, but that's an acceptable price to pay for music this stimulating.
~ Gabriel
For Fans Of; Brume, Heavydeath, Narcosatanicos, Sunken, Uroboros


Saturday, February 10, 2018

Nations Of Corpses...

Gnaw Their Tongues - Genocidal Majesty (2018)

Gnaw Their Tongues are pretty damn prolific for a one-man group, having put out a dozen albums (not including splits and side-projects) since self-releasing his first LP back in 2006. Keeping up that pace, GTT's first album for 2018 launches out from its start with howls, monstrous bass, and an enveloping sense of doom, compressing the massive-feeling music into just a little over half an hour of material. Electronics augment the nasty vibes, generating unstable fields of disturbance and high-speed percussion that ramp upwards into harder and harsher power. Industrial strength solvent for the nerves, high-pressure doom, nightmare factory recordings, and a big dose of unhinged, unrestrained maddened outpouring come together with fantastic results, while titles like “The Doctrine of Paranoid Seraphims” lure in unsuspecting listeners expecting something symphonic.
Not something which will appeal to everyone (thank goodness), Genocidal Majesty finds GTT continuing to experiment, but doing so with the confidence and dependable underlying technique that comes from having been at this for over a decade, with no signs of compromising the effort or earnestness of the various approaches he's taken in that time. The demonic passion which consumes GM at times (during “Cold Oven”, for instance) puts a long list of extreme metal groups to shame with how fiercely it comes at the listener, and the coatings of programming do nothing to get in the way of that assault. High-grade audio pain, intense and superb.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Boyd Rice, Iron Justice, Skin Chamber, Sunken, White Darkness


Saturday, February 03, 2018

Life In The Graveyard...

Burning Saviours - Death (2018)

With albums in their catalog dating back to 2005, there's no question that the Swedish group of Burning Saviours have a firm handle on the hard rock they play. With this latest album, they pay homage to some of the forebears who made the links between original doom metal and hard rock stand out most clearly, keeping the songs of Death heavy and theatrically menacing while emphasizing chuggy riffs, burnishing thick bass slabs, and singing about (what else?) the inevitable cessation of life.
Though there's a lot of homage filling the music, it also stands strong as a solid batch of old-school doom pulled off in fine form. Head-banging beats and hooky riffs are supplied in ample measure, the amping sounds warm (and pretty close to period-accurate for the style they're working), and refusing to stay small when there's a chance to go big with the rocking add up to an album which comes in without a trace of fear and does everything it sets out to do. Really, the music explains it better than I could, so as soon as the album drops (March 9th, through the good people at Transubstans Records), grab yourself a copy and get ready to ride a time-traveling train of heavy riffs back to the days when every piece of metal cover art would look good on the side of a van.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Black Knight, Candlemass, Pentagram, Saint Vitus, Salem Mass


Saturday, January 27, 2018

Ways Of The Waves...

River Cult - Halcyon Daze (2018)

Making their debut back in 2016 with a self-titled EP, the trio of River Cult are dropping their first LP this year, and for a group rooted in Brooklyn, they do a pretty damn respectable job of channeling the bluesy heavy psych sound into the five hefty tracks Halcyon Daze boasts. Thick pedal-boosted string textures and rolling drum rides build rich atmospheres of warm bleariness, and with not one of the songs dipping below seven minutes in length, the band gives themselves plenty of room to flesh out and shade in the nuances with care. It's heavy without losing momentum, psychedelic without going (too far) off the rails, and fucking groovy with hardly any bloat.
While the vocals are a lot of fun, keeping a sort of grungy, cool indifference going even in their roughest yells, the band packs in plenty of instrumental rocking, twisting their way through gnarled riffs, riding crescendos to a peak before leaping to another one, and getting down 'n' dirty in the earthiest tones. They've got heart, they've got chops, and from the sound of it, they're having a lot of fun bringing them together while pushing past emulation of their influences into something really great. Check this one out once it lands on February 9th (in CD, digital, and vinyl formats), play it loud, and play it again; just don't expect to catch all the details on your first time through.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Acid Elephant, Desert Suns, Frozen Planet....1969, Major Kong, Zombie Picnic


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Obverse and Occluded...

Zombie Picnic - Rise of a New Ideology (2018)

Debuting back in 2016 with their album A Suburb of Earth, Zombie Picnic made quite an impression on us with their free-wheeling strain of prog rock. They're back with their sophomore album now, due for release in March, and with it, the Irish quartet has assembled ~40 minutes of new material, perfectly portioned for the vinyl release it'll receive through Burning Shed.
Things start off in a low-key approach on “Democracy Cannot Survive”, with a gentle melody line cycling about as it finds footing, rising energy and expanding drum flourishes steadily infusing the measures, and the sharp, clear guitar tones wrapping firmly around the whole. The intensity continues escalating from there, with follow-up “They See Science as Dangerous” highlighting the group's ability to tighten up on a riff-ride while bringing all the members into vibrant action, with the bass-lines in particular grabbing listeners by the ear-balls.
Almost half of the album's duration is covered between those first two tracks, and for the rest of it, the songs are served up in more easily digestible form, from the focused drive of “DEFCON” on through to “Anger in Storage (Denial Will Follow)” and its relatively brief outro crash. Concise samples discussing the merits and impact of science fiction, among other societal concerns, are sprinkled throughout the music, and it's from these (and the titling) that the otherwise vocals-eschewing grooves get their thematic flavor. Whether they're really needed is up to the listener to decide, but they do add a nice splash of character (and personally, I'm always in favor of a well-used sample or ten).
Looking at the album as the group's sophomore outing, ZP have certainly managed to grow while holding on to the weird facets that helped make their first so distinctive. Fans of prog rock should go ahead and earmark some money for a copy, and fill the time before release by checking out the group's first album if it managed to slip past them.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Crown Larks, Indukti, Mondo Drag, Planes of Satori, early Porcupine Tree

Zombie Picnic - Anger in Storage (Denial Will Follow) (320 kbps)


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Plots And Pyres...

NEST - Metempsychosis (2018)

We last heard from NEST about two and a half years ago, with the release of their self-titled debut EP, which made a good impression with its stylish treatment of a blackened doom base.  After a follow-up EP in late 2016, NEST are back again to deliver their first LP, and with its half-hour or so of new songs, the Kentucky-based duo show that they're still in fine form when it comes to crafting concise assaults of weight-laden fury.  Instead of going the route of sheer blow-out screaming and thrashing, they put in the work to build carefully-developed melodies, letting listeners get attached to the tunes before smashing in with bolts of harsh violence, and keep that defiance of easy templates going the whole way.
While they've got a certain distance kept between themselves and rock-out vibes, they do have the ability to tap into those head-banging energies (check out the end section of “Gallows of Forever” for a demonstration).  Again, though, it's a work in contrasts; without the more serious majority of the music, those leaps into more traditional metal vibes wouldn't have the impact they do.  Similarly, their ratio adjustment between the doom and black metal takes them through a nice, wide range of effects and atmospheres, finding just as much room for deep grooves as they do for bone-rattle beatings, not to mention some good old feedback-soaked power drives.  Hell, I actually found myself throwing up the horns while listening (to “Divining by the Entrails of Sheep”, for the record) and I genuinely can't remember the last time a record provoked that response from me.  Even more impressive, they got the whole album recorded in just three days, with the songs' cohesion reflecting that feverish outpouring.
The time NEST have taken to put these songs together has been well-spent, no doubts there, and it's exciting to hear them stretching their style in so many different ways on their first full album.  As with their first EP, they pack in one song which dwarfs the others.  This time, it's penultimate track “Life's Grief” (embedded below), which rolls out to nearly ten minutes of powerful resonance, mixing its huge-sounding majesty with a deep-trenched coat of filthiness, capably covering the album's two extremes (plus the band's more experimental side) while also pounding out some heavy power.  If you're a fan of grisly doom and you're not sold by now, check the full album out once it drops, and let that take you the rest of the way.
~ Gabriel

For Fans Of; Hesperian Death Horse, Odradek Room, The Sleer, Sunken, Trees