Sep 282017


(Todd Manning reviews the new album by the Virginia/North Carolina instrumental metal band Loincloth, which will be released by Southern Lord on September 29.)

During the Death Metal explosion of the early ’90s, there existed an anomaly on Earache’s legendary roster, an incredibly complex and off-kilter Doom Metal act by the name of Confessor. Boasting dramatic, high-pitched vocals and very technical music, Confessor stuck out like a sore thumb in a scene dominated by blast beats and death growls. At the time, most people obsessed over the vocals. But nowadays, the world seems to have come around and considered their debut, Condemned, to be a classic, and in those conversations it’s the music getting equal attention.

After the band broke up for the first time, while in the midst of trying to follow up their debut, bassist Cary Rowells and drummer Steve Shelton went on to form Fly Machine and then subsequently moved on to Loincloth, an instrumental trio in which they are joined by guitarist Tannon Penland.

Aug 012017


(Here’s Todd Manning’s review of the new reissue of a landmark 1997 split release by Noothgrush and Corrupted, coming in August via 20 Buck Spin.)

If Doom and Sludge are related, and surely they are, then Sludge is Doom’s younger brother, suffering from all sorts of complexes and probably killed their parents because they wouldn’t give him money for meth. 20 Buck Spin has taken it upon themselves to remind us of one of the seminal releases of this most toxic of genres with their reissue of 1997’s split record between Oakland’s Noothgrush and Japan’s idiosyncratic Corrupted.

Noothgrush kicks off the split with the punishing “Hatred for the Species”. Mid-paced, at least in relation to other Sludge acts, the sound here is not unlike EyeHateGod minus the Southern blues influence. What the listener is left with is a bleak and nihilistic condemnation of what it means to be human. If these guys saw the world through these eyes back in 1997, imagine how far humanity has come in twenty years to prove their judgment prophetic.

Jun 292017

Thoughts of Ionesco, 1999, in Pontiac, Michigan (photo by CJ Benninger)


(Todd Manning is back, and brings with him a group of recommended releases from a collection of killer bands whose names you see in the title of this post.)

Roughly a year ago, I wrote an article here discussing several hardcore releases and I mentioned how if Black Metal held sway in the winter, I felt Hardcore lay claim to the sweltering summer. But now I am also willing to consider that there are cycles within cycles, and am reflecting a bit on the genre in its longer trajectory.

While nothing really ever goes completely out of style in these postmodern times, I can say with some conviction that Metal in all its forms kind of steamrolled over Hardcore in the first decade of the new century, at least in terms of overall popularity. Sure, D-Beat has certainly thrived in recent times, but those bands are pretty much settled into the same aesthetic as their Metal brethren, and Death Metal and Black Metal bands alike borrow quite liberally from the genre.

But now, I’m starting to feel that other forms of Hardcore are beginning to claw their way back into the conversation, and I wanted to touch on some recent releases that those who care should definitely make an effort to seek out.

Jun 272017


(Todd Manning rejoins us with a review of the debut album by Indiana’s Steed.)

In the age of all things old become new again, we often see modern day Metal musicians looking to the genre’s forefathers for guidance, and Indianapolis-based quartet Steed have certainly learned their lessons well. Their debut full-length, Surrounded by Cowards, was issued near the end of April courtesy of Small Hand Factory Records, who successfully tapped a similar vein recently with Kulthammer’s Oath.

The key here is Steed’s ability to meld the songwriting chops of the genre masters with the grit of today’s underground. Album opener, “Speed Weed Steed” sets the stage with its venomous mix of underground Thrash and Motörhead. There is an undeniable Punk edge to the proceedings as well, the kind of swagger that is sure to keep their audiences drinking and fist-pumping, engaging in all things lawless and belligerent.

May 092017


(Todd Manning brings us this review of the new EP by Colorado’s Excommunion, and we also bring you a full stream of the music.)

At this point, it’s no secret that I have been extolling the great state of Death Metal in 2017, and so I wanted to pen a quick missive singing the infernal praises of another powerful release, the new Excommunion album, Thronosis.

I’ve noticed that so much of this great Death Metal is coming from scene veterans, and Excommunion is in that camp. This is the follow-up to 2002’s full-length Superion (with a split in between), and this release finds the group in fine form.

Apr 262017


(Todd Manning wrote this review of a 2016 split release by Indianapolis-based Conjurer and the NY band Kaiju Daisenso.)

A little late to the game here, but I recently had the pleasure of discovering this split from two devastating sludge acts, Conjurer and Kaiju Daisenso. Originally released as a split flexi 7” last November via SMALLHANDFACTORY records, both tracks are now available on Bandcamp as well.

Conjurer are a based out of Indianapolis, and this track marks an impressive follow-up to their formidable full-length Old World Ritual. Under the title “You’re in Here with Me”, Conjurer spill forth burly, mid-paced sludge riffs with moments of psychedelia peeking out through the bile.

Apr 052017


(Todd Manning wrote this review of the new album by Artificial Brain.)


It’s impossible to know (short of asking them) if New York-based Death Metal quintet Artificial Brain are familiar with such outre philosophies as Cosmic Pessimism or Object-Oriented Ontology, but they certainly seem to have concocted the perfect soundtrack to such occult topics. On their second full-length, Infrared Horizon, due out on April 21st on Profound Lore, they present us with a sound that conjures forth the far reaches of the void of outer space, and the nihilistic possibilities outlined in said philosophies.

Jan 242017


(We present Todd Manning’s review of the new album by the Portuguese death metal band Pestifer.)

If you’ve ever become frustrated trying to parse out what’s Old School Death Metal and what’s New, and maybe what’s just plain Death Metal, Portuguese trio Pestifer (who have recently become a four-piece) leave no doubt about where they stand.

Inspired by only the most atavistic and savage originators of the genre, they are poised to release their debut full-length, Execration Diatribes via Lavadome Productions on February 14th. It is nothing short of a love letter to their forefathers. These Old School maniacs have no goal but to satiate the bloodlust of Death Metal’s most dedicated fans.

Jan 112017


(This is Todd Manning’s review of the debut EP by Australia’s mysterious Miserist.)

A new year is upon us and there’s no reason to believe we’re not just one more step closer to the carnivorous abyss. No wonder extreme music just gets nastier and more oppressive, the most recent torchbearers coming in the form of the Australian mystery collective Miserist. This self-titled debut EP is a cavern-borne Death/Industrial hybrid, and strangely, considering the style, entirely instrumental. This one facet proves to be most compelling, coming across as a strange absence at first, but then as an abstraction upon repeated listens. The more one listens, the more this one facet opens itself up to speculation about the thought process behind the decision.

For the most part, Miserist alternate between devastating yet obscure slabs of blast-beat-driven Death Metal, often reminiscent of the mighty Portal, and more mid-paced Industrial-fueled sludge. Without vocals, the music becomes both inhuman and weightless; even the most straightforward riffs become atmospheric. And there is a layer of grime and filth overlaying the whole affair as well. The listener is invited to imagine all sorts of post-apocalyptic futures stimulated by their assault.

Dec 292016



(Todd Manning prepared the following two reviews.)

Sometimes you hear a couple of releases and you can’t help but pair them together, and that is certainly the case with the new albums by The Drip and Endorphins Lost. Both of these bands hail from the Pacific Northwest and lash out at the world with Grindcore-soaked fury, and both have new albums coming out less than two months apart. Endorphins Lost even mention The Drip in a press release as one of their influences. There’s probably more connections, but you get the point.


Endorphins Lost released their burner Choose Your Way via Six Weeks Records on November 25th. They draw heavily from Powerviolence with their penchant for abrupt tempo changes and blasting fury. They are simultaneously jarring and intoxicating, and manage to bust out no less than fourteen tracks in roughly twenty-eight minutes.

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