(DGR turns in this review of the new album by Bavarian grind merchants Genocide Generator.)
This one took a bit to review. Not because there was some conflict or confusion as to how Genocide Generator did things, but mostly because III is an album that does almost exactly what I was hoping the band would do after their debut album I — you’ll note, there’s no II yet — which was to double-down on all of the elements they had used to make their first disc.
I was hoping they would double-down on the speed, on the grind, on the usage of electronics, and on the heaping helping of just outright absurdity that they splattered over the top of everything. And that’s what they did on III. So if you can remember way back to the olden horse-cart days of the internets and our review of I, and if you enjoyed that, then III is perfect for you. What took a while with III, though, is that since the self-described “grindustrial madness” band doubled down on everything, it’s hard to pontificate about much with the disc. And it also raises a few interesting questions.
One question is that since the band have so much fun inserting dumb sound effects and cranking on random electronic noise to go along with the high-speed adrenaline rush that is their music, how does one possibly review grind like that? How does one talk about grind that takes on an almost carnival-like atmosphere with its big-top bombast and the joy of how anarchic some of the songs become? How do you review an album of grind that sounds like it was made for a funhouse?
(DGR wrote this review of the new album by Germany’s Torturized.)
Here at NCS, we’re proud of the spelunking we do to find underground metal, in between our fawning over the genre as a whole. We also enjoy helping get folks’ names out there — in my case, especially when it comes to some machine-precise death metal.
The idea of musicians as machinery is one that still proves exciting, and hearing a band execute on that idea to crank out some crushing death metal still impresses. Which is how I wound up at the doorstep of Torturized‘s disc Omnivore.
(DGR delivers this big review of the new album by Germany’s Profanity.)
If one were to play the numbers game with German three-piece death metal band Profanity and their album releases, one could say that it has been quite some time since the group’s last full-length album — and basically have it qualify as one of the understatements of the year.
The band, having sprung back into life after a decade-plus of on/off activity since their last release, put out an EP in late 2014 known as Hatred Hell Within, an EP that consisted of three songs but could’ve easily passed as an album, given the denseness of the material contained within.
Profanity like writing big brutal death metal songs. Not big in terms of bombast, but in terms of how much they can pack within the six-plus minutes many of their songs tend to take. This mentality has continued onward with the group’s newest release, The Art Of Sickness, coming in a little under three years since that Hatred Hell Within EP.
Containing a deceptive six songs within its tracklist, The Art Of Sickness leaves its listeners looking like one of those idiot TV show hosts right after ordering a gigantic meal, as the realization finally hits them that there is actually a lot on that plate, despite the overwhelming confidence with which they approached it and the initially deceptive appearance.
(DGR reviews the new EP by Author & Punisher.)
Half the fun of reviewing the handful of Author & Punisher releases that I’ve been able to cover the years has been in finding descriptors for the music. It is a project that lends itself to creative prose, in part because the Author & Punisher project doesn’t use traditional instrumentation; the artist himself constructs the instruments and plays them solely by himself, so the usual go-to’s are immediately flung into traffic to become someone’s new hood ornament. Describing the slow, percussive, atmospheric, drone and doom that Author & Punisher has made its bread and butter has been fun, but two of the words that never would’ve come to mind are “detached” and “dispassionate”.
Author & Punisher albums have differed immensely from each other over the years, with a collective of various influences each worming their way into the recordings of project mainman Tristan Shone drowning within his machinery that we’ve taken to calling music. Up until Author & Punisher’s previous release Melk En Honing, the music felt partially like an exorcism, a form of expression for someone who was burying himself in layers of percussive machinery, occasionally screaming at the top of his lungs and engaging in the occasional minor Godflesh worship. Women & Children, especially, had a lot of fun with being as fierce as the song within it that bore the same name, albeit at a very slow pace. Melk En Honing had some roots in a blues-and-sludge twist on the regular formula, and also included some of the heaviest moments that Author & Punisher has created to date — including the blinding violence of the opening few minutes of “Callous And Hoof”.
A new Author & Punisher release is kind of an event because it often comes coupled with new machinery that Tristan has built, and the newest Author & Punisher release Pressure Mine is no different in that aspect, but it is a very, very different event than previous experiences.
(DGR turns in one of his typically detailed reviews, this time focusing on the new album by Italy’s Hideous Divinity.)
I tried something different with my first few listens of the new Hideous Divinity album Adveniens. I put the whole thing into a shuffled order, so that the first few times Adveniens breathed life into my speakers, it was done in a random order each time. I did so because I wanted to really see what songs captured my attention, which ones really reached out into the ether and punched me hard enough to make me check what song I was on.
I say this, in part, because the branches of the hyperblasting brutal-death metal tree that Hideous Divinity hail from are many, and at times it can be difficult for bands to stick out. Now three albums deep, Hideous Divinity have never had too much of an issue with it — having written their music like lyrical mad scientists unleashed upon the brutal death world — but the line between a solid hunk of speedy and caveman-level groove-heavy death metal and the monotonous whirring of a truck engine can be a little thin, and even the best of bands have failed the wire-walking act and fallen into that crevasse before. Adveniens does not.
(DGR reviews the new album by Finland’s Wolfheart.)
Tyhjyys, the new album by Finland’s Wolfheart, is a moody album, shrouded in fog, happy to stew in cold and detached misery. It has actually shown itself to be an excellent soundtrack for the rain-drenched and fog-shrouded drives home from work in the month since its release, the perfect encapsulation for grey skies and dense mist rolling in off the water.
Tyhjyys also marks the third album for founder Tuomas Saukkonen’s Wolfheart project — his name should be at least somewhat familiar as the founder of many an NCS-covered band: Before The Dawn and Black Sun Aeon, to name two — itself having since evolved into a full group as of 2015’s Shadow World album.
It is also a disc of transformation — one that sees Wolfheart traversing from one genre to another, finally giving into their gloomier leanings and going for the melodeath/doom hybrid that the region traffics in so well. And it does so organically across eight songs, starting out with music that feels like it is picking up right where Shadow World left off and slowly getting colder and colder from there before finally landing on its title song and overall theme of the album. Fitting for a release whose title translates to the word ‘Emptiness’.
(We present DGR’s review of the new album by the death-grind super-group Lock Up, which was released on March 10th by Listenable Records.)
It is rare that I find myself admiring a musician for the amount of fun he seems to be having on a disc; but I sincerely hope that one day I have half as much fun as Nick Barker seems to be having with the toms on his kit on Lock Up’s new disc Demonization.
We open with musing on that fact because if there is one dominant thing you won’t help but notice over and over during the vicious barrage of auditory violence that Lock Up wield against their listeners during Demonization, it is the constant drum fills that feature the upper part of the man’s drum kit as he just flies through the whole thing. Someone pulled him aside and told him ‘go fast’, and that is what he did for most of the album, save for three songs where the group actually slow down slightly, and he unleashes some ultra-tight blasts and rolls constantly, making sure every drum and cymbal available to him gets the everliving shit beat out of it.
But of course, that’s much like the entire listening experience; it is why we come to grind-stalwarts Lock Up in the first place, right?
(DGR reviews the new album by the Italian band Ex Deo, which was released last month by Napalm Records. Okay, they’re really from Canada.)
One of the common narratives for a band returning from hiatus is the “boy, has it been a long wait for a new disc” lead-off, and 90% of the time these are generally correct. Usually a group returns to fans desperate for new material and the wait, after a while, no longer feels like an eternity and quickly becomes just another fun fact. Any long wait tends to do that.
This is not the case with Kataklysm mainman Maurizio Iacono’s Roman-themed symphonic death metal side project Ex Deo. In fact, Ex Deo enjoyed one of the shortest formal hiatuses (hiati? hiatus’?) I’ve heard of, with the project being put on hold in early 2014, two years after the release of the album Caligvla, and then being reactivated in late 2015 to work on the album that would eventually become their new disc, this year’s The Immortal Wars.
I generally enjoyed Caligvla, so I was one of those who was initially bummed out by the hibernation of this Kataklysm-save-for-one person project, and then just as immediately excited by the prospect of a new disc. Granted, when you look at it on paper, there is a five-year gap between albums.
(DGR prepared this detailed review of the new album by Andorra’s Persefone, and we have a full music stream for you at the end.)
If there is one thing that I’ve come to admire in music over the past few years, it is a sense of ambition. As music has become democratized and we’ve found bedroom and studio projects achieving just as much as groups with label backing, I’ve found bands who seem to have decided that since there is no more ‘living within their means’ any more, they can just go for it every time they step up to the plate. Persefone are one of those bands.
Now a handful of albums deep into their career, each disc has seemingly grown in size and scope compared to the last one. They come off as a group that has overdosed on just as many Dream Theater and Symphony X keyboard-laden discs as they have the late ’90s and early 2000s melodeath scene.
(Chicago’s Mechina released a new album on January 1 and, continuing a long tradition, DGR reviews it.)
The idea of a band creating their own lore occupies a special place in my heart, a place where admiration and hilarity co-exist in the case of Mechina. The ambitiousness of trying to set up a universe and tell a multiple-release-spanning story is incredible, in an age of music that is quickly devoured and disposed of, reserved exclusively for streaming and set up to run in the background. Going beyond the usual goal of “let’s make a really good disc” and into one that seeks to create a musical space opera that pulls from equal parts miltiary sci-fi and exploration segments, that is where my admiration comes to fruition.
That the Mechina crew have doggedly sought to create this saga on a yearly release schedule, with the occasional single release ahead of time, has felt like an exercise in insanity. The hilarity, for me at least, has been in the part where year afer year I have to describe this to what may be a new audience not feel like I’ve fallen into a feedback loop of repeating myself.