Yesterday I noticed a Facebook post by Baltimore’s Grimoire Records about a forthcoming release by a Virginia band named Foehammer and a song from the album that had debuted on Bandcamp. So I visited the Grimoire Bandcamp page — and discovered three more forthcoming Grimoire releases that I didn’t know about (surprising as it may seem, I haven’t yet become omniscient). So I decided, what the hell, this seems like good fodder for the next MISCELLANY experiment. And since I haven’t written a MISCELLANY post in two months, I decided there’s no time like the present.
To remind you about the MISCELLANY rules, I randomly pick albums or EPs by bands whose music I’ve never heard (usually by bands I’ve never heard of either), I listen to a track or two, I write my immediate impressions — and then I stream the music so you can make up your own minds. Unlike everything else I write about at NCS, I don’t know in advance what the music’s going to sound like or whether it will be worth the attention. Don’t try this at home — I’m a trained scientific professional and I can handle the risks.
Foehammer’s self-titled release appears to be a debut album, scheduled for discharge by Grimoire on March 3, 2015. The one song that’s streaming is a 10-minute track named “Stormcrow”. It’s one of three long-form tracks on the album. I like the album art (by Luciana Nedelea). Turns out that “Stormcrow” is quite likable, too.
And by “likable”, I mean slow, low, and crushing, with the kind of guitar distortion that makes your teeth vibrate and the kind of drum strikes that are capable of causing herniated discs. And holy shit, the vocals are goddamned gargantuan, and as deep as ocean trenches.
The riffs and drums pound mercilessly in a sludge/doom dirge, occasionally raked by sliding strings and infiltrated by strands of dismal melody. I felt my mind becoming clouded in a narcotic haze, my head drifting into a slow bob, my guts gradually being liquified. Sweetly pulverizing music — a definite winner.
I had high hopes for the next Grimoire release I found on the label’s Bandcamp page. Why? Because the band’s name is Organ Trail and their EP’s name is Those Slimy Bastards — and would you look at that cover by Dahmer Art? Yes, all the signs were positive.
Organ Trail’s members appear to be scattered in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and Those Slimy Bastards seems to be their second release, following a split earlier this year with The Vomiting Dinosaurs (another enticing band name!). It’s due on February 3, 2015.
Two tracks from the EP are currently streaming, which is just about right for MISCELLANY purposes. The first one is “That’s my mother you’re pissing on” and the second is “A terrifying tale of sluts and bolts“. Yeah, more positive signs.
It takes a little while for the first track to kick into gear (there’s a sample at the beginning), but holy shit, once the gears engage the song becomes a vicious onslaught of death/grind, like a demonized tank attack. The song is packed with pavement-cracking grooves and savage riffs, and the whole thing sounds fantastic.
The second track is just as irresistible — more like a freight train than a demon tank, but with riffs that are just as ferocious and grooves that are just as skull-cleaving. Really excellent guitar machinations, a locked-in rhythm section, and a ghastly combo of hi-low vocals make this an electrifying experience. Another winner.
THE VOMITING DINOSAURS
Guess what? The next forthcoming Grimoire release that I found on the label’s Bandcamp is by that Vomiting Dinosaurs band who did the split with Organ Trail. Their new album is named Worship the Porcelain God. I don’t really believe in worshipping anything, but as deities go, one that doesn’t object to being vomited upon can’t be all bad.
This new release will be spewed forth on February 10, 2015, and two tracks are now streaming, which is again just about right for MISCELLANY experimental purposes. The first is “Crypt Kegger” and it’s an absolute blast to hear, a combo of grind, thrash, and death metal that’s bent on ramming your head right through the wall and into the furnace next door. It starts fast and then gradually decelerates before the Dinosaurs jam the pedal to the floor again. Authentically horrific hollow roars from the vocalist, too.
The second track is “Tenafly Viper” and it’s just as much of an open-throttle ass-kicker as the first song, and it includes an off-pace mid-section that’s a guaranteed headbang trigger. Don’t be fooled by the humorous names of the band and the album: this is top-shelf metal marauding.
For our final test case we come to Baltimore’s Snakefeast. Their debut album on the Grimoire label is entitled Pythoness, and it’s due for release on January 6, 2015. What really peaked my interest about this band was the description of the instruments used on the album: bass, drums, cello, two saxophones — and no guitar.
This is the first time in this MISCELLANY episode that I was required to make a choice among available songs for a test case, since the entire album is now streaming on Bandcamp. I decided to choose the first track (“Blight”) and the last (“Damiens”). I confess that including the last track wasn’t a completely random decision — I saw on the band’s Facebook page that they released a music video for “Damiens”, and I thought that might be worth watching.
“Blight” starts as a bleak, barren, mid-paced rumble, with truly unhinged vocals. But soon enough the song starts to rock the fuck out, driven by catchy-as-hell bass riffs and rambunctious percussion. And then the song changes again, drifting into a beautiful, sombre melodic passage accented by that cello, before the song accelerates to the finish; the tortured, throat-scraping vocals remain thoroughly demented.
“Damiens” is based on the prolonged public torture and execution of Robert-Françoise Damiens, who had attempted to assassinate Louis XV in 1757. The melodic atmosphere of the song is deeply melancholy, an effect enhanced by the cello, but the music is also powerfully infectious and heavy as lead. And there’s a big pulverizing finish to the song driven by a repeating melodic flourish with an almost classical air that will get firmly stuck in your head. It’s a powerful piece of music.
I suppose you could classify this music as sludge, but that label really doesn’t capture how multifaceted and captivating the music is. Very impressive.
P.S. I’m including the video for “Damiens” after the Bandcamp player, which splices together interpretive dance and shots of the band performing the song.
To sum up, I thoroughly enjoyed what I heard from all four of these releases. Even before this, I admired the full-service modus operandi of Noel Mueller and Phil Doccolo at Grimoire — they not only release the music of the bands on their roster, they also handle the recording and producing of the music themselves. And what these four new releases confirm is that they’ve got good taste, too. Bravo.