What follows are delayed reviews of three short releases that I’ve enjoyed, two of which are available for free. And by “delayed”, I mean that I started writing this post in November, put it aside, got caught up in other things — and forgot to finish it! Better late than never, I hope.
In the middle of November a Dallas band named Maldevera released a new three-song EP entitled Incarceration Plague via Bandcamp. According to Metal-Archives, this is the fourth demo they’ve released since 2012 — and this one is awesome.
Maldevera load up this EP with some electrifying thrash riffs, and some deliciously headbangable grooves, but the songs are especially fun because they don’t follow a straight line. The tempos change on a dime, the music veers, swoops, and occasionally rams your head right through a wall. And just when you think you’ve got the band’s formula pegged, they launch into extended melodic instrumental segments or intricate progressive digressions, laced with eye-popping guitar solos operating in the red zone that really aren’t your standard thrash shred.
You’ll see what I mean in the very first track, “Guilty (Until Proven Innocent)”, which completely earns its 8-minute run-time. But every one of these three songs is loaded with head-spinning surprises, and maybe the biggest ones come at the beginning and near the end of the third track, cleverly entitled “Fuckalanche”. I won’t spoil those surprises.
The drum and bass work is also impressively dynamic, with acrobatic drum fills that grab your attention even alongside the hugely charismatic guitar performance. And the vocals are raw, rapid-fire, and enraged.
Keep your eyes on these dudes — they got the right stuff.
Incarceration Plague is a free download on Bandcamp, and it appears that CD and tape editions will be forthcoming.
WALL OF WATER
This first band (who may or may not have named themselves after a Mayhem song) caught my eye because of who is in it: Cullen Toner (vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards), who under the name Maelstrom was a guitarist and vocalist in the New Jersey black metal band Abazagorath, and drummer Shawn Eldridge from the death metal band Disma.
With the background of Wall of Water’s members, I was very curious to hear what kind of music they have collaborated to create. Although it’s not what I was expecting, it’s very good — though I have no idea what kind of genre label(s) to use for it.
What I’ve heard is a two-song sampler from their forthcoming self-titled debut album. The first track, “Exposure”, is a blazing explosion of instrumental acrobatics, everything moving at high-speed and supercharged with head-spinning energy. The vocals are seething and searing, the drumming is off the hook, and the song benefits not only from the technical flash of the performers but also from the judicious use of keyboards in a way that sinks the melody of the song in your head.
At the beginning, “Clairvoyance” is a sharp contrast with “Exposure”. It’s slow and hypnotic and features a rippling/needling guitar melody — but then the song accelerates into a sandstorm of threshing guitar chords, blasting drums, and fierce vocal vitriol.
Based on these two songs, that new album should be worth exploring in full. The two songs are free to download at Bandcamp:
PROFANAL AND INTO DARKNESS
I’ve written before about these two Italian bands, both of whom feature powerful female vocalists. In Profanal’s case, it was in the run-up to their 2012 debut album Black Chaos (here). And in the case of Into Darkness, I’ve written about all four of their releases prior to 2015 — their 2012 debut demo (here), their 2013 demo Cosmic Chaos (here), their 2013 EP Transmigration of Cosmic Creatures Into the Unknown (here), and their 2014 split with Ghoulgotha (here). How, you may ask, did I then miss the fact that Iron Tyrant released a 7″ vinyl split by these two bands in August? Fuck if I know.
Anyway, I know about the split now, and both songs are available on Bandcamp.
At first, Profanal’s track, “Close the Coffin”, sounds like what you might expect from the title — slow, grisly, gruesome, grotesque death metal. And then the drums begin to charge and gallop, the riffs begin to whirr like buzzsaws, and the vocalist (Rosy) starts howling like a rabid wolf. The music still exudes a strong corpse stench, but there’s a lot of invigorating punk roots mixed into this poisonous death metal stew. And for only one five-minute song, the band pack in a lot of tempo and rhythm dynamics.
Into Darkness’ track, “3C 273”, gets the adrenaline pumping right from the beginning, with jabbing distorted riffs that lock into a catchy chord progression, punctuated with squealing spurts of guitar derangement. And through it all, Doomed Warrior’s vocals sound positively nightmarish.
As I mentioned, the two songs are available on Bandcamp — but the songs don’t come together. Each band has its own song on its own Bandcamp page, and the combined price is steep for a two-song release. Vinyl editions may still be available from Iron Tyrant here.