Jul 172018


(This is DGR’s review of the comeback album by the Bay Area’s Light This City, which is out now via Creator-Destructor Records.)

We’ve been having a lot of fun with it lately but there seems to be a legitimate concerted effort to resurrect the mid-aughts musically, with a handful of groups that gained prominence during the early metalcore and deathcore explosions coming back after multi-year hiatuses and breakups, deciding that 2018 was going to be the time they all returned. They’re obviously not the only bands to do so this year, but it sure does seem like 2018 has been designated the year of the comeback.

We have to be on something of a ten-year cycle for groups breaking up and re-uniting, because that is one of the few ways I can explain how so many bands who were content to hang it up about seven-to-ten years ago all came back at once. If you’ll allow us to pull the curtains back a bit, it seems like my recent review work slate consists entirely of groups returning from my first few years of community college – – particularly the three-pack of Bleeding Through, The Agony Scene, and Light This City, although Into Eternity coming back and local Sacramento groups Journal and Jack Ketch both also joining the fray are part of the phenomenon, with the last two admittedly a likely the reason I’m pounding away at this theme.

As mentioned, Light This City are one of these groups, calling it quits after the release of their 2008 album Stormchaser and from then on reuniting sporadically only for a small handful of live dates (coincidentally the only times I had seen them up until July 1st of this year) — until this year, which saw the late-May release of the group’s newest album through Creator-Destructor Records, Terminal Bloom. Continue reading »

Jun 052018


(This is DGR’s review of the new album by Fractal Gates, which was released on May 12th through Naturmacht Productions.)

Five years between discs is on the long end of the “should I just stop checking to see if this band is doing anything or move on” segment of the waiting scale for fans. It actually may be the darkest part of said scale, where you wind up quickly moving through the five stages of grief about letting a group go, yet being thankful at the same time for all the music you do enjoy from them while clinging to the hope that if something new does pop up in the future it will serve as a pleasant surprise. It’s an odd yet freeing type of emotional whiplash, and one that many fans of France’s prog keyboard-heavy melodeath crew of Fractal Gates had likely started going through as the time passed since the release of the group’s 2013 album, Beyond The Self.

The musicians in Fractal Gates have certainly kept busy during that time, particularly vocalist Sebastien Pierre, who has become part of a variety of projects including Enshine, his solo work through Cold Insight, his various Mass Effect cover songs and reimaginings, and even some work with Monolithe — but those who enjoyed the up-tempo, keyboard-heavy work of Fractal Gates finally got their own taste of new material this year with the group’s new, densely packed album The Light That Shines, a disc that has absorbed five years worth of experiences into its own introspective formula. Continue reading »

May 312018


(DGR reviews the new album by Dead Wretch, released on April 27th by the Albuquerque label Ipos Music.)

Hug Division Dead Wretch may be the fastest I have ever gone from clicking around with the Random Band button on Metal-Archives to purchasing an album.

Hug Division Dead Wretch is the first full-length for Dead Wretch, a one-man project belonging to musician Daniel Jackson based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, that at one point counted amongst its ranks fellow band member “Definitely Not A Copy Of EZDrummer”. It is a tongue-in-cheek black/death/grind project that despite its less-than-serious origins has grown into something that not only has an acidic sense of commentary but also the musical bite to back it up. Having spent a few years launching EPs and a handful of joking singles, Dead Wretch released its previously mentioned first full-length this year, comprising mostly new songs and three tracks re-done from the project’s first EP, the tersely titled fuck it.

While most projects like this tend to make use of the plug-and-play nature of grindcore, Dead Wretch performs a much more difficult act — that of skewering various specific subjects (at one point claiming to be from Minot, North Dakota, so they too could seem more exotic) but also offering righteous indignation and social commentary (check out “Eat Shit” for an immediate example) while backing it up with excellent music. Continue reading »

May 212018


(The Finnish grindcrushers in Rotten Sound released a new EP via Season of Mist on May 18th, and DGR gives it a detailed review here.)

Rotten Sound’s 2016 album Abuse To Suffer is one of the better examples of a neatly packaged album of grind out there to date, with the band having seemingly found a near-perfect length for their latest vitriolic blast-beast to unleash upon the world. Like many of their songs, Abuse To Suffer ends almost as suddenly as it begins with an almost perfunctory pop of the snare to finally send things off, neatly tying off the near half-hour you get with the Finnish speaker destroyers. Which means that the group’s latest EP — Suffer To Abuse — makes for an interesting proposition, arriving nearly two years after its predecessor and picking up right where the band left off, as if the Rotten Sound crew just couldn’t let go of that disc just yet and so dished out another eleven minutes (spread across seven songs) of hyper-fast and ultra-precise grindcore, leaning heavily on the circle-pit aspect of the -core sound.

The limited edition EP, which saw a staggered release between Europe and North America (for whatever nightmarish reasons, and not the first group this has happened to this year — Centinex also had a month between continents with their disc Chaos Manifesto), can be neatly summed up as exactly what you want you from the group — another quick expulsion of sound that remains relentless throughout, with just enough sludge around the edges to add a little dirt to the group’s latest sweat-fest. Continue reading »

May 012018


(DGR wrote this review of the new album by the Italian death metal band Order Ov Riven Cathedrals.)

Göbekli Tepe, the recently released full-length follow-up to last year’s Order Ov Riven Cathedrals EP The Discontinuinity’s Interlude, takes absolutely no prisoners from the moment its first real song kicks off. Following a similar format to last year’s EP, Göbekli Tepe basically has an intro for ambience and then spends the rest of its time with you going as fast as feasibly possible — in line with many of their Italian hyperfast blast-heavy death metal kin — and making almost no compromise in favor of breathing room.

The mysterious two-piece behind Order Ov Riven Cathedrals continue their science fiction and mythological bent nearly a year later, this time amplifying just about every aspect of last year’s EP, making it feel like The Discontinuity’s Interlude really was laying out a blueprint for them to follow. Order Ov Riven Cathedrals not only wring just about every ounce of highly accelerated  death metal they can out of their time, but also bring along a bevy of familiar movie and media samples (how many albums out there have a sample from Breaking Bad on them these days?). These include metal’s recent obsession with Oppenheimer’s television interview wherein he utters “I am become death, destroyer of worlds”… although the Riven Cathedrals crew mix it up a bit by using it in reverse and closing out with, “A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent”. Continue reading »

Apr 302018


(We present DGR’s review of the latest album by Demonical, which is out now via Agonia Records.)

Considering the various skulls, demon bones, and other awesome metal ephemera in the album art gracing the front of Demonical’s Chaos Manifesto it is probably a strange situation to open with the idea that, with this album, the comfort-food nature of the Swede-death genre and its effects on your reviewer have been firmly established. There’s something near instantly recognizable in the genre’s chosen pacings and structures that feels immediately familiar and speaks to the lizard segment of one’s brain, so much so that just about any band who embrace the mid-to-high tempo thudding nature of the music are bound to at least put on a decent live show, and, with a genre whose foundations and blueprints are so solidly in place at this point, those who merely follow it with a checklist can at least kick out a decent disc.

Which just makes it all the more difficult for a group to stand out from the pack or, given their aims, to make an album that at least ranks as a “solid good time”. Demonical, a group born from the hiatus of another Swedish purveyor of mid-tempo thudding death metal (Centinex) and now with a lineup that includes a pretty healthy chunk of the newly reactivated version of the aforementioned group — three of whose members were made official in 2017 — have released what could be considered the most straight-shooting Swede-death album of 2018 so far. In Chaos Manifesto there are no pretenses, no real attempts at breaking genre conventions, just a solid eight-track, thirty-six-minute slab of death metal that gives metal fans across the variety of the circle-headbanging genres something to salivate over. Continue reading »

Apr 172018


(On February 14th of this year, Vaelmyst released their debut EP, with cover art by Travis Smith, and now we present DGR’s review of this promising first release.)


This will always be something of a private entertainment given my residence in California, but sometimes the location of a band and the music they play can prove to be equal parts interesting and amusing. When you think of Southern California, oftentimes you get the gussied-up, made-for-tourism brochures-picture of the area in your mind. The usual checkboxes: nice weather, attractive people, palm trees galore, and glorious views of miles-long beaches. What you don’t expect are the heavy metal groups that appear from time to time with a distinctly European flavoring.

While that region doesn’t have a monopoly on the sound, you’d be forgiven upon listening to Vaelmyst’s first EP, Earthly Wounds, for assuming their location is somewhere a little bit more melancholy and with a whole lot more snow, rather than the wide concrete expanse of Los Angeles.

The new band, which counts amongst its members Ronny Lee Marks, Tom Warner, Jeff Martin, Jonathan V (artist-behind-the-curtain in a variety of Fredrik Norrman projects, the recent October Tide, for instance), and session drummer Mike Ponomarev, traverse multiple spheres within the melodeath genre on Earthly Wounds, with each of its five songs drawing from different inspiration than the one before it. Earthly Wounds has a solid through-line, but the different prongs of it point in multiple directions, which gives the sense that Vaelmyst are still trying to zero in to one overall sound. Continue reading »

Apr 092018


(DGR prepared this review of the latest album by Weed Priest from Galway, Ireland.)


I’ve been hinting at writing this one for a very long time — considering that this album hit on October 31st, 2017, and I didn’t mention it other than to say I was looking into it in December. In the annals of reviews of mine that I have deleted and restarted numerous times, this one has to be up there. Considering that we’re now in early April, the album is very much up there as one of the ones it has taken me a very long time to forge ideas about.

Put simply, it’s because I am not the doom guy around here. Your doom expert around these parts is our very own ruler of the early morning post Comrade Aleks. Not only has he put together a near-ceaseless and well-constructed series of interviews with different musicians across the genre and issued them here (and elsewhere) for some time now, but he has also written a tremendous book. Continue reading »

Mar 192018


(The Canadian death metal wizards in Augury will be releasing a new album on March 30 via The Artisan Era, and today we present DGR’s extensive review of this eagerly awaited new work.)


This first third of 2018 is proving to be an insane time for groups coming back from the obscure voids of space to which they had retreated, and the angular prog-tech-death madness that Augury specializes in is the latest example of that trend. Prior to the March 30 release of the band’s upcoming album Illusive Golden Age, the gap between their previous two releases Concealed and Fragmentary Evidence was a little under five years. When Illusive Golden Age sees the light of day via The Artisan Era, that previous gap will have been eclipsed, as Illusive Golden Age comes sailing in at a little under nine years since Augury’s last disc.

Through Illusive Golden Age’s eight songs, Augury basically pick up right where they left off. By the opening notes of its title song, there is absolutely no need to make guesses about whether this is an Augury disc or not — everything is served up on an incredibly dense plate from moment one, and from there Augury zig-zag through an increasingly complicated obstacle course, purpose-built to leave its listeners with the equivalent of auditory whiplash. Continue reading »

Mar 052018


(This is the third and final part of DGR’s round-up of selected new songs and videos that appeared over the last couple of weeks. You can find Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.)


Venom Prison – Devoid (Live)

The last time we checked in with Venom Prison was in late January, to spread the news of the February 23rd Prosthetic Records re-release of their 2016 album, Animus, and the group’s music video for the song “Immanetize Eschaton”. That deluxe edition of Animus is now out with five live songs added to it as a bonus disc, and the group unveiled a live-shot video for one of those songs, “Devoid“, right around that time. Continue reading »