(DGR prepared this review of new songs and albums from four bands.)
These Sifting articles are ones that I like to hammer out from time to time, as I have a habit of discovering so much new music in an effort to feed the NCS readers’ gullets that I absolutely cannot cover it all, much less dedicate a huge review to each discovery. However, I also feel like I’m doing the bands wrong by simply going, “I’ll try to get around to it”, because a lot of these groups are quality musicians who deserve a chance to get out there. So, Sifting was born — a series of articles in which I dig through the various recent collections of music I’ve accumulated and try to get some shorter summaries up to share out with people.
Of course, as I am prone to do, I still get stupidly wordy, and some of these summaries are longer than the reviews we run on this site — but still, its all about the thought, right? So sit down with me, as we travel the world and I blather on with more long-winded phrases and stupid similes to share with you about quite a few different bands, bouncing across the US and then over to Europe and back again.
Fun fact: I have never for a moment toyed with the idea of joining the military — but were I ever drafted or forced into it, the one thing that I could see myself doing would be trying to join a drum corps.
I know that these days it’s pretty much entirely pomp and circumstance and done for show, but I absolutely love the sound of a military snare. It’s a tight and punchy sound, more of a TAK, like a quick weapon fire than any sort of vibration. So of course I chose the genre in which there is the highest propensity for snare drums to come out sounding like someone unloading a full-auto machine gun into the side of an aluminum trash can. It’s probably a weird quirk of having sat behind a kit myself, but I am deeply in love with a tight snare sound, and it will usually be one of the points by which I judge an album, dumb as that sounds.
This brings me to In-Defilade with their somewhat recently released new album Rulers Of Famine. I landed on this band kind of randomly, a group who describe themselves a ‘Wartorn Blackened Death Metal’. Now, I know that Blackened-Death is “all the rage” these days, and I like the heavy, monolithic sound that those bands take on, but what really intrigued me here was the “wartorn” reference. Did this mean they covered wars? Would it be militaristic? Blackened-Death already has something of an imperialistic sound, so how do you push it more so?
In-Defilade are a three-piece group consisting of Jon Vesano (who played with Nile on Annihilation of The Wicked and was also in Darkmoon and Demonic Christ), Subverseraph of Vesperian Sorrow, and Shawn Bozarth (who has credits in the band Defiance). All three handle a variety of instrumentation in the group’s ranks, as well as vocal duties.
In-Defilade have made themselves kind of difficult to locate, as full streams of the album seem to appear randomly, but Rulers Of Famine is a heavy, heavy disc. It’s a huge-sounding album that, surprisingly enough, does fit in with the militaristic aspect of their mission — up to and including a super-tight snare drum, which sounds like a full drum crew backing the band and just hammering away as the music marches forward through each song.
There are sections of Rulers Of Famine that are insanely heavy, with everyone drilling away at their instruments and creating a massive wall of sound, but most of the time the death metal on this disc is tight and overwhelmingly precise, which means the songs tend to have a tapping motion to them. A lot of death metal is already pretty groove-focused, but the sound In-Defilade strikes seems to slingshot right past that aspect and lands firmly in the intensely percussive. The music isn’t all that subtle and instead moves with sweeping bombast. Nothing tends to highlight that more than the fact that Rulers Of Famine contains both a song with the name of the band as its title and another that shares the album title — and both of those are highlights on this album. “Contaminating The Waters” is another quick-moving highlight, and “They Shall Fall”, with its epic run-length, is its opposite — pretty much damning everything to, well, fall.
As a recent discovery, In-Defilade worked out well. It’s an odd one, of course, and the music can be jarring in the face of most guitar-heavy death metal. However, if you’re interested in hearing a militaristically precise form of death metal, Rulers Of Famine is a trip to take.
As we are prone to do with these Sifting articles, we now launch ourselves clear across an ocean — from one continent and country to another, to plant ourselves firmly in the soil of Spain.
Karlahan are another fairly recent discovery, true to the ongoing theme of these articles, and I came to them by way of one of the many “unknown melo-death” sort of YouTube accounts that just generate massive playlists and then post them. My ears immediately perked up in hearing what sounded like a keyboard-heavy, less focused version of Persefone.
Research would later bare out that I was in fact listening to Karlahan, who hail from Barcelona, Spain, and have a new disc out this year entitled Exile via 7hard Records. After a couple of listens to Exile, I think pigeonholing them as a melo-death band is a little odd, though there is no denying that they do contain a ton of the elements present in that genre. Instead, the band inhabit the prog-metal sphere — or at least they sound like they are trying their damndest to do so, because the music on Exile is packed to the gills with stuff.
Exile is a dense album. It’s clear throughout the fifty-six-minute runtime that Karlahan write music like music is going to be banned. There are sweeping orchestral sections contained within, and by the same token, they combine huge clean-sung bits with harsh screaming for the black-and-white dynamic many bands use. Karlahan write huge, sweeping, epic tracks on Exile, and frankly, this is one of the discoveries I was really excited about sharing because they combine so many different elements.
There’s definitely shades of melodic death metal here, but one could make an argument that these gentlemen are drawing just as much from Symphony X and Dream Theater, or that the bass-guitar tone used on this disc is paying deference to tech-death. Karlahan have that amorphous-mass-of-music quality that is hard as hell to pin down but is exciting to hear when it works properly. I’ve been jamming Exile for the past couple of months and I won’t lie to you, I’ve been pretty locked with this disc from its opening minutes — from the massive choir they use at the end of the song to the intense screaming that perforates this disc. You need to give Karlahan a shot here.
We make a lateral jump from Spain over to Portugal for some time with Aernus. Aernus are an angular sort of prog-death-metal band — the type known for just piling noodling section on top of noodling section, meaning that at times the guitar parts may not match up, but they do take on an almost Death-like quality in how complicated it all sounds.
Each song on the group’s new release Homorretrocessus — out via Lemon Drops Media — is an ambitious undertaking, feeling partly like the album is more of a hike than it is a listening experience, but it’s the sort of oddball take on death metal that has to be experienced at least once. That means you have songs that incorporate elements of being heavy as all hell, while at the same time opening with some of the weirdest clean-sung sections I’ve heard in some time.
Homorretrocessus is a bit rough-sounding for sure, with the drums seemingly at the forefront for almost the whole disc. But the fact that Aernus bounce from weird moment to odd section had me interested for the album’s entire run-time, if only to see where they would take their music next. Songs like “Journey To The Center Of The Earth” feel heavily inspired by Cynic, and then you have a track like “Hanged One Eyed King” that remains aggressive for the whole time it is going.
Homorretrocessus is the sound of a band who seem to be aiming insanely high, and at times when everything lines up just right, they do hit it — in between the massive amount of noodling and insect-like riffing and the off-the-wall drumming. Right now Aernus may be true underground dwellers, but they may be one to keep an eye on in the future.
Now we launch ourselves from recent past discoveries to an upcoming release that has me particularly excited, courtesy of New Jersey’s Organ Dealer.
You may remember Organ Dealer from the time when I reviewed their two-song EP, Demo 2014, but if not, then here’s the quick crash course: Organ Dealer deal in a manically aggressive form of grind — part powerviolence, part hardcore punk, and part grind — which leads to their releases sounding like people throwing their instruments around at a fast pace whilst the vocalist shrieks over the top of it. It’s an intense listen to say the least, and when the band condensed it down to under a minute in their song “Pear Of Anguish” last year, it quickly became a high-mark for me.
Needless to say, I’ve been keeping a watchful eye to see when the group’s full-length release would be coming up, and although my check-in’s have been relatively sporadic I was excited to find that the band do have a full-length album coming out on July 14th, entitled Visceral Infection.
So far, the band have put out two songs from that disc in the form of “Festering Maze” and “KPC-OXA48”. Both songs are lightning-quick jolts that feel like someone is hitting you with stealth electro-shock therapy. They’re both screaming messes of music that clock in at a combined total of under three minutes — so you can’t say that I’m hassling you for a time sink on this one.
If you’ve been looking for the sort of hyperviolent, shrieking music that Gridlink were pumping out up to Longhena, then Organ Dealer are a sure bet for you. We’ll likely be checking in with Visceral Infection when it sees a full release, but the music is just too good not to get out there right now.