Here are three short reviews of three short releases that I think are really good. I’ve been meaning to say something about two of them for the last week or two, and the third I only heard for the first time yesterday — and that’s the one I’ll start with.
I wish I had time to carefully read every e-mail and Facebook message we get from bands and listen attentively to all their music, but I can’t. Instead, what I’m able to check out is a matter of happenstance — it often comes down to whether I happen to have a few minutes to kill at the moment when I read a message that pricks my curiosity.
For example, yesterday I was skimming through the NCS e-mails with a few minutes to kill and saw a message from a Polish band named Soulless Carnage who described themselves as “a blackened death metal crew, inspired by classics like Morbid Angel, Deicide, Grave“. In fact, they’re partially named after a Grave tune (“Soulless”).
Well, I was intrigued and decided to listen to one song from the band’s debut EP, From the Remains To Heaven (released this past February) — and before I knew it, I had listened to all four songs (plus the ominous ambient intro track). It’s really good. In fact, given that this is the band’s first release, it’s amazingly good — dynamic, heavy-grooved, technically impressive, and damned catchy (with suitably monstrous vocals). The sound on the EP is powerful and sharp-edged, and given the talents of the musicians, the clarity of the recording is a plus.
Those other bands named by Soulless Carnage as the sources of their inspiration may suggest to you that this is old-school death metal, but it’s very much a modern entrant into the genre, with a bit of blackening in the mix. Definitely check this out as best you can (unfortunately the band haven’t yet made the album available for download).
This Colorado band was formed only last year by guitarist Joe Alexis and vocalist Holly Wedel. They recruited guitarist Joe Piker, drummer Ryan Bloom, and bass-player Rhiannon Wisniewski, and Bloodstrike was formed. The musicians have bands such as Havok, Silencer, Clusterfux, Moth, and Torrid Flesh on their resumes, but Bloodstrike seems to be their exclusive project at the moment.
They self-recorded a two-song demo called Necrobirth that became available in June (mastered by Patrick Bruss [Crypticus]) and they’ve been working on a full-length debut that should see the light of day next year (with cover art by Mark Riddick).
The demo is available on Bandcamp at “name your price”, and if you’re a fan of old-school death metal and death ‘n’ roll, you owe it to yourself to check it out. This is morbid, pestilential metal with great guitar and bass tone, killing riffs, pinpoint drumming, and frighteningly deep, bestial vocals. The production really turned out well, too, because this is a crusher. It alternately rolls like a tank attack, lumbers like a giant golem, and romps like a drunken punk. Cool.
I found out about this band (whose members seem to be scattered among different states) through multiple links posted by Facebook friends of mine a week ago. Its line-up seems to consist of producer/guitarist Arthur Rizk (War Hungry, Cold World, Power Trip), former Hour of 13 singer Phil Swanson, drummer Justin De Tore, and guitarist John Powers. The band recorded a three-song demo named Guardian that’s now up on Bandcamp, and the Bandcamp page says it will be released on vinyl this fall through Cyclopean Records.
At $7 for the Bandcamp download, it’s pricy for a three-song demo, but the songs are so damned good and I’ve listened to them so damned often that I’m getting very close to pulling the trigger.
And here’s the thing: I’m usually so allergic to power metal and “classic heavy metal” that I have to carry one of those anti-venom kits, or at least a box of antihistamine, whenever I get anywhere close to that music. Otherwise there’s a high risk I’ll swell up like a toad, my windpipe will constrict, and I’ll be gasping for breath and pleading for mercy. But these songs… they’ve got their hooks in my head.
And that’s the right word, too — the melodic hooks in these songs are to die for. The riffs are magnetic, the rhythm section is locked in, the solos are blistering. And the vocals are excellent — cheese-free, with impressive range, and at the moment reminding me of Ozzy in his prime. Stupendous!