The Swedish label Blood Harvest Records plans to release a series of 7″ EPs between now and year-end. Yesterday I reviewed the first two of those EPs to reach the label from the pressing plant (here). In this post I’ve collected thoughts about the next three that are planned for release, which are now at press.
Ascended Dead come our way from San Diego, and include current or former members of Ghoulgotha, whose Blood Harvest EP was one of the two covered in Part 1 of this series. Their release is a four-song collection entitled Arcane Malevolence, which follows the band’s four-song demo released in 2012.
The label pitches the band with references to the likes of Possessed, Necrovore, and the early sounds of Morbid Angel and Sarcofago, and that should give you an idea of what you’re in for. This is thick, murky, grinding death metal, the gears of the monstrous machine choked with grime and spewing noxious fumes as it barrels ahead at a murderous pace.
The Swedish label Blood Harvest Records plans to release a series of 7″ vinyl EPs between now and year-end. I’ve received advance digital versions of five of them and thought I’d put down a few words about all five, divided into two posts. In this one the subjects are the two EPs that the label announced yesterday it had just received from the pressing plant. The other three are apparently being manufactured now, and I’ll cover those in Part 2 tomorrow.
Ceremonial are a Chilean band with two previous demos to their credit. Their Blood Harvest release is a four-song offering entitled Ars Magicka. The music is a blazing blitzkrieg of black thrash, a rapacious attack of rapid-fire riffs, booming bass, and acrobatic drumwork, with utterly venomous, echoing vocals.
A deep rumbling noise could be heard rising up from the bowels of the interhole yesterday as the name BÖLZER! was simultaneously growled by reviewers who had just received their advance copies of the band’s new EP Soma. The degree of excitement that had been building in anticipation of the EP was phenomenal, given that before Soma this Swiss band had only released a grand total of six songs — three of them on 2012′s Roman Acupuncture and three on 2013′s Aura. I can’t think of many extreme underground bands who’ve made such a big splash in so little time on the strength of so few tracks. But on the other hand, this Swiss duo really don’t sound like anyone else, and that’s a rare achievement in this day and age.
I’ve admitted before that my attraction to Bölzer has bordered on the unhealthy. I listened to Aura so much that I began to fear an alien entity had taken up residence in my skull. I included “Entranced By the Wolfshook” on my list of 2013′s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. After seeing the band at Maryland Deathfest, I waited in line so long to buy a shirt that I missed the next band’s entire set (but seriously, how could you not struggle for the chance to get apparel emblazoned with “THUNDER TONGUE BOLT FIST” on the back?). So yes, I was growling the name yesterday, too.
Well, I have good news and bad news about Soma. The bad news is that it only includes two songs — “Steppes” and “Labyrinthian Graves”. And that’s it for the bad news.
Relatively late in my life as a metalhead I’m discovering that I like thrash/speed-metal riffs best when they’re served up black on the outside and bloody on the inside. In this post I’ve collected some music from four underground bands that have been feeding that particular hunger.
Triumphant is the name of a band from Innsbruck, Austria, that used to be called Manic Disease. Their debut album, Herald the Unsung, was released in March of this year in vinyl by Heavy Forces Records and on CD by Cyclone-Empire.
My pal KevinP recently sent me a link to the album’s title track, and I was hooked from the opening seconds by the highly infectious and caustically blistering riffs that propel the music like a rocket. The song does have its off-speed moments, which are drenched in dark melody and surrounded by an aura of doom, and they’re part of what makes this long song so appealing. The vocalist, by the way, sounds like he has rabies — unhinged and biting.
(DGR wrote the following review of the new EP by Godflesh.)
When a band like Godflesh decide to put out new material after an extended hiatus it is an important moment. Like At The Gates, Carcass, and Meshuggah as well, Godflesh have put put albums that have launched whole genres and sounds. Vast numbers of bands could trace their geneologies back to these bands based on their chosen genre. In the case of Godflesh it is a tree whose branches are many and whose roots run deep. They in particular have affected many bands who may not even be able to pinpoint the source of the influence. I’m not the hugest follower of Justin Broadrick, but even I recognize the name, as well as the work he’s done with Jesu over the years and his stint in Napalm Death, among his many other projects that have always landed on the periphery of my music listening’s vision. That’s why, when bands like this reform with new material, it is important.
There is a sense of the elder band showing the upstarts how it’s done, but there’s also the more anthropologically sound idea that you’re revisiting the very start of something big, something that feels pure. You know you’re hearing the music of a band whose sound inspired so many other groups years ago, the sound that launched a genre or two, the sound that so many bands latched onto, which over time was watered down or hybridized by others. In cases such as this, you really do hope that the progenitor group’s new material holds up. Not only that, you hope it holds up a mirror to the bands who have descended from them and were inspired by them, with the wish that it will either define or redefine a sound that has been lost or long since changed.
(DGR wrote this review of the new EP by Sweden’s Volturyon.)
Volturyon are one of those groups I came to incredibly late. I had heard the name before, but my attention wasn’t directed toward them until the guys who made up the band started appearing in other projects I had been listening to — in this case, drummer Christian Netzell, who at the time was playing in In Mourning, and vocalist Alexander Högbom, who turned up in October Tide. Later, bassist Oskar Pålsson from Coldworker would join their lineup as well, but I don’t know if he contributed to Human Demolition. It was, however, one of those coincidences that make the band seem like a death metal explosion built out of the most volatile chemicals that they could find.
The timing of my discovery would prove fortuitous because the band had started hinting at new material, yet I still had enough time to explore, and genuinely enjoy, their earlier works — just so I knew what I would be in for. However, what I hadn’t expected was that when Volturyon took just enough time to put out an EP, they were going to condense the very best of their sound down into four songs and a real quick intro — and genuinely surprise me with some of my favorite material to date.
Long story short, I knew Human Demolition was going to be good, but I did not think it was going to be this good. It’s one of the few discs this year that has left me with whiplash because I couldn’t resist whipping what is left of my glorious mane up and down in rapid-fire sync with the music.
Well, this is a damned fine way to end the damned work week — with the release of yet another free demo by Sweden’s Torture Division. This new one is named The Reaping.
As followers of the band know, they periodically release demos for free, and each time they complete a trilogy of demos they package them up for release on a compilation CD. In 2013, Torture Division released two demos, both of them (as usual) mixed and mastered by the masterful Dan Swanö at Unisound. The first one was named The Worship, and I reviewed it here. The second one was The Sacrifice, and I reviewed that one, too. And then I also picked one of the 2013 songs — “All Rise” — for my list of 2013′s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs.
The Reaping completes the latest trilogy of Torture Division releases. This one was also mixed and mastered by Dan Swanö, and in addition to providing a free download of the songs in mp3 format, this time Swanö has prepared a download file of the songs in full dynamic range FLAC format for the audiophiles out there. So go thank Mr. Swanö by liking his Unisound Facebook page, dammit!
And while you’re in a thankful mood, go throw some money at Torture Division via this link so they’ll continue showering us with the best goddamned death metal masterpieces the world has ever known (I know these are masterpieces because Torture Division says so, dammit!).
And now, for a few words about The Reaping.
I hadn’t even made it to the last song on my advance copy of Fear the Priest before I was blasting an e-mail to the publicist for Exxxekutioner, begging for the chance to premiere a track from this debut EP. I got my wish, and now you’ll get a taste of what got me so pumped up about this six-song main-line of pure mosh fuel.
This group of four twenty-somethings from the vicinity of Manchester in the UK have only been together since the spring of last year, but you’d never guess that from the music they make. They have mature skills and old souls — and by that I mean a direct channel to the early spirit of bands like Venom, Sodom, and Destruction, delivering a brash and authentic blast of thrash, black, and speed metal like they’ve been doing it for decades.
The hell-ripping songs on Fear the Priest fly like a horde of bat-winged demons, the kind of speed you’d reach if you were on fire and the nearest water source was three blocks away. The riffs are to die for — super-charged with adrenaline and loaded with irresistible hooks — and the tumbling, rumbling drumwork and booming bass will get their hooks in you, too.
Two of my most highly anticipated 2014 albums are Crawling Into Black Sun by Wolvhammer (due for release by Profound Lore on July 8) and Transient by Krieg (coming from Candlelight Records in September). And today Broken Limbs Recordings has released a split by both of those bands that just provides more reasons to get stoked for the coming albums.
Wolvhammer’s contribution to the split is “Slaves To the Grime”, an alternate version of a track that will appear on Crawling Into Black Sun.
I’ve heard the album version, which is a standout song — a body-moving bulldozer of concrete-heavy riffs and vocals that are acid enough to etch glass, with other alternating segments that lumber into a sludgy, soul-sucking abyss and gallop like a hell-horse. The version on the split is, if anything, even more thoroughly pulverizing. The production gives it a thoroughly radioactive quality, and it’s shot through with bolts of squealing, squalling lead guitar, like that crazy part of your brain trying to get out of its prison. And man, when it hits those doomed, dragging segments, it falls like granite blocks dropped from a great height.
Truth be told, I like this version even more than the album track (and I’ve been a big fan of that one since the first listen) — completely crushing, but also infectious enough to warrant a call to the Center for Disease Control.
Good bands die, and sometimes other good ones rise up from their ashes like a Phoenix. A case in point: I’ve been in mourning over the death last year of God Dethroned, but that great band’s members are moving on to other things, including drummer Michiel van der Plicht (also ex-Prostitute Disfigurement, ex-Detonation) who is now a member of the new Dutch band Apophys. I also experienced pangs of grief a few days ago when I learned that Mondvollond had also disbanded — and lo and behold, Mondvolland’s Mickeal Schuurman turns out to be the bass player for Apophys. Apophys also includes talented guitarists Sanne van Dijk and Koen Romeijn (Detonation) and vocalist Kevin Quilligan (Toxocara, Erebus).
I’ve been investigating Apophys since discovering them for the first time this weekend, and I’ve included in this post a selection of what I found. Eventually I’ll come to their music, but I’m beginning with a medical procedure.
The subject of this procedure was Apophys vocalist Kevin Quilligan. He paid a visit to phoniatrician Enrico Di Lorenzo (who also happens to be the frontman of Rome’s Hideous Divinity) for a vocal assessment. I had never heard of phoniatrics before, and if its a new field for you as well, you can learn a small amount about it here. This consultation was videotaped, and fortunately it turns out to be more interesting than film of a colonoscopy, although both procedures involve the insertion of tubes with cameras into fleshy orifices.