Five years ago I didn’t own any 7″ vinyl records. I can’t even remember reading about any 7″ vinyl records five years ago, at least in the realm of metal (though I hasten to add that the darker, deeper corners of the underground were largely unknown to me back then). My how things have changed.
Though I’d venture a guess that most 7″ records today are being released by smaller underground labels, it seems like everyone is getting into that game. What’s more, some of the best songs you’re likely to hear this year are waiting to be discovered on these small vinyl releases rather than on full-length albums (and fortunately, many of them are also being made available for download, for the record-player-challenged in the audience).
Here are three examples of superb 7″ releases from 2014 that I’ve discovered quite recently (thanks to a Facebook post by Krieg’s Neill Jameson). You’ll understand why I’ve grouped these three together after you hear them.
VEGAS is an acronym, which stands for “V.ermouth E.quilibrium G.hanoush A.sphyxia S.onata“. The band’s members are scattered around the globe, but I couldn’t tell you their names because they don’t exactly publicize them. They trace their musical inspiration to such bands as Japan’s G.I.S.M. and hardcore heavyweights Integrity. I was unfamiliar with them (because I only dabble in hardcore and crust) until hearing their new four-song 7″, Sagevisule.
This is bleak, multi-faceted, throat-gripping music — an amalgamation of riveting melodies (including acoustic ones!), massive riffs that slam with the weight of sledgehammers, bone-smashing percussion, and a combo of bearlike vocal roaring and shrieking blood spray. The pacing varies from doom-stricken stomps to crust-punk rampages, with incinerating guitar solos and head-smashing breakdowns to add extra punch. And goddamn, this thing really punches hard.
When I used to think of current Finnish death metal (not the melodic kind), I tended to think of crushing death/doom, or perhaps a few famous death/grind deviants. Mine eyes have now been opened wider.
Obscure Burial are a relatively young band from Turku, Finland, whose first demo was released in 2012 by Ireland’s Invictus Productions. Invictus, which has dependably refined tastes in filthy extreme music, is about to follow up that first abomination with a second one. The new demo is named Epiphany, and it’s due for release on September 15.
Anyone who shies away from raw, flesh-rending, berserker blackened death metal with a heavy emphasis on speed can stop reading right here, because that’s what you’ll get in spades from Epiphany – and from the song we’re about to premiere: “Night Queen”.
On the other hand, if you get a flooding adrenaline rush from ripping riffs, weapons-grade drumwork, and vocals that sound like a demon pantheon, you’re about to get a satisfying fix for that addiction. In fact, you may not need another fix for days or weeks, because this is potent, uncut, and borderline toxic stuff.
You’re really not going to find anything better today that costs you nothing — including even the air you’re sucking in — than this two-song single released yesterday by a band from Arizona named Ill Breed. I found it sitting in my e-mail in-box after a long, frustrating day at my fucking day job, and man alive, was it refreshing.
I was in the mood for something crushingly heavy and cathartic and spine-tingling, and when I listened to these two songs, I got all that, and I got more besides.
What’s extra cool about this music is that it’s not all one thing. It’s freaked-out howling feedback and weird noise. It’s skull-clobbering hardcore. It’s tribal drumming and headbanging riff rhythms. It’s strutting, stomping, testerone-fueled chest-baring, topped by venom-spewing, bile-vomiting vocal mayhem. It’s groaning doom chords and hard-jabbing thuggery.
For the music reviewed in this post, we need to turn back the clock. In the first place, the music was released more than two years ago, in June 2012. In the second place, the unholy spirit that surges through the songs is older still — much older — but it’s no less ferocious and its appetite for destruction is still insatiable.
The band’s name is Maze of Terror and they’re based in Lima, Peru. Their sole output to date consists of a five-song EP entitled Skullcrusher, and points must be awarded for truth in advertising: This EP is one hell of a skull crusher.
I could tell you this music is the kind of throat-throttling, honestly deviant, impeccably executed thrash that would have been right at home on mix-tapes from 30 years ago that people are still talking about today. Or I could tell you this:
(In this post Leperkahn reviews the new EP by Orange County’s Phobia.)
Phobia may have just won the prize for the most hilariously literal release title in existence.
They are releasing a new 7” via Deep Six Records. It’s called Grind Core. If you’ve heard of Phobia before, that’s truly all you need to know to understand this thing slays.
In the hands of most bands, naming your release after the well-established sub genre in which you traffic might be seen as a bit ill-advised. We all might release a collective groan if Morbid Angel named their next album Death Metal, especially after the out-of-touch fiasco that was Ilud Divinum Insanus. A hypothetical new Mayhem album entitled Black Metal would probably warrant a plagiarism lawsuit. But in the hands of Phobia, such a title really does tell you all you need to know before even setting down the needle. It assures you that Phobia haven’t pulled a highly-unlikely genre-180 to explore complextro — and that the band are still churning out grind as potent as ever and aren’t bashful about saying so.
In this globe-trotting post I’m reviewing a recent split release by Moloch from Nottingham, England, and Haggatha from Vancouver, Canada, as well as a January 2014 EP by Slug Salt Lava from Istanbul, Turkey. When you hear the songs, you’ll probably understand why I grouped them together under the heading “Sculpted In Tar”.
The Moloch / Haggatha 7″split was released earlier this year by an unholy triumvirate of Dry Cough Records (UK), Graanrepubliek Records (Netherlands), and Choking Hazard Records (Canada). If you order from Dry Cough’s Bandcamp page (here), you’ll also get an immediate digital download of the split.
Moloch’s track is named “Head of Coil”, and it follows the band’s 2013 splits with Meth Drinker and Ensorcelor. The word “crushing” gets thrown around with abandon, like spit in a mosh pit, but “Head of Coil” is crushing. The fuzz-bombed riffs and powerhouse drum beats hit like a slow-motion bridge collapse, and the people trapped in those cars as they descend into the yawning chasm below — they’re screaming; you hear them in the furious vocals and the squalling feedback. To repeat: crushing.
(NCS contributor Leperkahn recently winged his way to France for a period of study abroad — and on the way he penned a couple of reviews, including this one.)
I was just about to get really productive, and start catching up on the backlog of reviews I’ve been meaning to do. I was so ready to get that fulfilling feeling of being back on track, at least in a small part. It was really gonna happen this time – for the first time in a bit of a while, I had the motivation to write, and the emptiness of a couple of long flights en route to Paris to do them. I had it so nicely planned and organized.
Then Noisem released a new 7”, and all of that went to absolute shite.
As I write this (on said plane), I’ve had a digital copy of it for maybe a day at most. I’ve now listened to it probably ten times, if not fifteen. This is a roundabout way of saying HOLY MOTHERHUGGING SHITE THIS THING ABSOLUTELY BLOODY SLAYS.
It’s rare for us to look back over our shoulders at releases from past years (or even past months). We have too damned much trouble trying to stay abreast of current releases. But I’ve recently discovered some short releases by three bands from Pennsylvania that I felt I had to write about, despite the fact that most of the music is from 2013 — if for no other reason than to introduce you to some names I suspect you’ll be hearing more about in the future.
The first one is a 2013 demo by a band named Outer Heaven, and the second is a 7″ split by Drones For Queens and Occult 45.
I discovered the existence of Philadelphia’s Outer Heaven as a result of some glowing Facebook remarks by Krieg’s Imperial about their performance at last weekend’s Detest Fest Vol. 1 in the band’s home town. I hadn’t heard the name before, but after some poking around I learned that they include guitarist Jon Kunz from Rivers of Nihil and that they released a 7-track demo last year. But having said that, I suggest you now put Rivers of Nihil right out of your head, because Outer Heaven is a very different beast.
On that 2013 demo they drop ropey sludge riffs down from the rafters, knot them around your neck, and then push an anvil-heavy counterweight over the edge — and up you go, while the band beat you like a piñata with crowbars.
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”).
(In this post DGR reviews the 2014 EP by Ireland’s Weed Priest.)
Let’s sit down for a moment and have a quick heart to heart chat. I’m not the most worldly when it comes to heavy metal, but if you name your band Weed Priest, you can really only be one genre right? A name like that has to point to the stoner doom spectrum of things. Especially when it comes paired with artwork and a logo like what you see above (my goodness I like that artwork). So, while Galway, Ireland-based band Weed Priest may never be accused of burying the lead, you could definitely say that the group have the image side of things pinned down to a T.
Their newest release, the EP Worship, released August 1st, has a lot to live up to then — because a group who have so finely honed their image, down to the point where each member now refers to himself as “Brother _____” in their line-up listings, had better be good on the music side of things. Otherwise, it’s all wasted potential. Fortunately, Weed Priest do live up to their outward appearances and public personae about the best that anyone could have hoped for.
Worship is a retro-as-hell sounding disc, as if it were crafted as a worship ritual for the early seeds of doom, the occult, and stoner rock that were planted in the early 70′s. It sounds like it was recorded after a massive Sabbath binge, and it stands as an all-too-brief preview of what could be a really good run from a band with only two other releases to their name, if they stay on the course where Worship is pointing.