(DGR hath delivered the following round-up of two new EPs and one new single.)
It’s been a little while since I’ve had time to really trawl around the internet and pen up one of these humongous roundups — mostly because smaller descriptions have been mutating into full album reviews. Often, I’ve used this kind of feature to help folks catch up with stuff they might have missed (or that we missed) and discover things that may have happened weeks ago, but flew under our collective radars. This time we’re having a little fun and attempting to bring a theme with this one — the theme of desaturated artwork, because what is more METAL than black-and-white artwork?
The answer is “nothing”, for it is bereft of all color, like our hardened and blackened souls. So I present unto you the most recent collection of things I have found, which actually share not one, but two things connected to the printed format: They are in black-and-white, and I was really fucking slow in writing about them and getting them out to you.
Two of these bands should be fairly familiar to the NCS readership (Hi Mom!) and one is a new discovery, which is why I open with them. Thus, we begin our trip into the world of the binary artwork with a brief trip to Australia.
Siberian Hell Sounds – ⍲⍕⍎⍱
Now these gentlemen reached out to us, figuring that we would probably dig on what they define as their “blackened hardcore” sound. A couple of the bands that I have reviewed from Australia have been varying shades of hardcore, usually along the more extreme punk side of things — Idylls and The Fevered being shades of those — and these gentlemen from Brisbane are happily content to unleash their own brand of auditory chaos alongside them.
Yes, Siberian Hell Sounds locate themselves in the Siberian region known as Brisbane, Australia, but other than that don’t surface too much information about themselves. It’s an interesting tactic, given that their logo looks like it could be on the cover of a pulp 1950’s Sci-fi comic and reveals nothing about their style of music. However, only a couple minutes into ⍲⍕⍎⍱ reveals that their brand of music is heavy, oppressive, and downright suffocating.
The gentlemen in this band (it looks like ⍲⍕⍎⍱ was recorded as a three-piece) bury themselves in a massive wall of sound and screaming. You can clearly hear the hardcore influence in their music — some of the groove makes itself apparent halfway through the second song, as the first part is like being caught up in a hurricane. Live, it must be a constant struggle to avoid being blown over by it.
This is music that is rabid and teeth-bared, claws-out and coming right for you. The whole experience of this EP is like an angry, violent confrontation. The band have made it available for “name your own price” on Bandcamp. They are also trying to raise money for an album by offering handmade cases for this release; they have apparently made about 25 of them, and I’m not sure how many are left because Bandcamp’s formatting gets a little crazy with the group’s album title around that part. Still, if you’re seeking a giant whirlwind of oppressive noise, then the group live up to their name and reputation as “Hell Sounds” ten-fold.
Editor’s Note: This new EP is the band’s third. In addition, the band participated in a split last year with NØNE, and last fall they released a video made by D.O. Blackley and Dan Young that combined both of their songs from the split, “By The Voice Of His Master” and “A Cult Will Rise”. I’m including that below the stream of the current EP.
A Band Of Orcs
A Band Of Orcs are longtime friends of the site, always willing to help out with our “top albums” list at the end of the year and in general serving as the best band of raiders on the coast who leave us alone in our comfy confines up here to the north. Recently, the group had some lineup changes, as two of their members stepped down (or were killed — I tend to trust the narrative of the guy with the axe) and now exist as a three-piece.
Most people tend to write off groups who costume themselves as being full of gimmickry, and usually they are right — the music never seems to match up with the band’s makeup budget. But in the case of A Band Of Orcs — between my exposure to their full releases as well as catching them live with Gwar — the group’s music is a hell of a lot heavier than you might expect.
It does make logical sense, though, that A Band Of Orcs would choose to make death metal. How many times have we found ourselves comparing other death metal vocalists to the sound of a grunting orc, as we imagine such creatures to be low-voiced, bellowing beasts? So, if there were actual orcs, you could easily imagine that, to them, death metal would be like a bard playing a lute.
As mentioned, the newly trim Band Of Orcs finds themselves recording as a three-piece on their 2015 demo/EP March Of The Gore-Stained Axe Tribe — with our buddies Gronk! and Cretos still part of the band, picking up on bass and high shrieks, and low growls and guitar, respectively. Live, the band have added a fourth member with my favorite last name so far — “Foehammer” — to handle the bass playing, which frees up Gronk! to scream at everyone. The group themselves provide an extensive explanation of everything that has happened with them on the full Bandcamp page for this release, including lyrical concepts and who is taking up what role within the band.
The music on Gore-Stained Axe Tribe is heavier than hell and full of death- and groove-metal meat, sauteed with the lightest bit of thrash on top of it. There are plenty of humungous, thick grooves to latch onto, and even if you were unaware that the guys in this band dedicate themselves heavily to the Orc mythos, they’re a solid group of musicians outside of that.
That should spare the NCS headquarters from being burned to the ground (unless by our own mistake) for another week, right?
Aether Realm are a group that we haven’t checked in with for some time, so that should help explain a little bit why we’re so goddamned late on this news. While we’ve covered everything the band have done — including when they let us help premiere their album One Chosen By The Gods — we still seem to be pretty bad at staying up to date with our friends from North Carolina. However, it is great to see that they are still going strong and have a new single out, entitled The Chariot.
The new song sees the band playing with their sound even more so than on the murderously awesome previous single The Magician. The group pull the reins in a little bit on the folk element of their sound, and in its stead go heavier on the guitars and keyboards, a little bit more Children Of Bodom than Wintersun this time around. The shocking thing, though, is that the band still take in all of their influences and manage to make them their own, creating music that easily stands alongside the better-known acts who are out there.
Not only that, but Aether Realm do throw in a bit of a curveball with some clean vocals and an excellent pull off of a quick piano break. The song still has the group’s trademark headbang-heavy gallop, and of course the lead melodies are again to die for. Aether Realm have been doing a hell of a job with their two singles, and the gap between them has made it a difficult wait for a full new album.
If you missed out on The Magician, you need to check that song out as well — but only after you’re done spinning The Chariot a couple of times. Right now, Aether Realm have the single available as a name your own price jam.