Is this too much? Songs, albums, and EPs from ten bands collected in a single post instead of divided up and spread out over time so you can have recovery periods in between the skull-fracturing? I’m afraid it might be too much, but obviously not afraid enough to change the plan. Mainly, I’m too impatient to share all this fine new metal to worry very much about your cranial integrity.
In fact, you can think of this as a test for the hardness of your skull. If you can make it to the end, you have a Granite-Level Skull and should consider applying for employment as a crash-test dummy. People with Eggshell Skulls might not make it through the first track; R.I.P. Those of you in between are degrees of semi-hard and semi-soft, kind of like cheese.
Three-and-a-half years have passed since I last wrote about this band from Bergen after discovering them through a listening session for a MISCELLANY post. But the opportunity for a rediscovery has arrived, because on June 27 Argonauta Records will release their new album, Ghost Empire.
Last week Argonauta revealed the cover art (which is quite nice) and one of the new songs, named “Deliver Us From Evil”. What you’ll discover is massive, deep, rumbling, doom-influenced death metal with a mix of grinding tremolo chords and hard-jabbing riffs, capped by gritty, gravelly, evocative vocals. Part rushing freight train, part busy abattoir, part plague-carrier, this will put a dent in your head for sure. I’m eager to hear more….
This next song actually may not threaten your cranial integrity as much as most of the music in this post. But what it definitely will do is threaten the integrity of the neuronal wiring within your skull.
The song is “Quest For Identity”, taken from an album called Initializing Irreversible Process by the Roman band Deceptionist, set for release on June 17 by Unique Leader.
I’ll tell you what, I think my eyes rolled back in my head when I listened to this song and I was left questing for my own identity by the time it ended. It sounds like an alien insectile swarm busy constructing some vast machine in orbit around our planet according to blueprints far beyond our understanding, a machine that will consume the earth when completed.
In more prosaic terms, it’s skittering, hyper-speed, technical death metal with a somewhat out-of-the-ordinary approach to production that amplifies the music’s insectile qualities and a taste for weird soloing and strange bursts of… something… something that sounds like a nuclear-powered typewriter, or maybe the zip and flutter of hummingbird wings if hummingbirds were the size of pit bulls. The vocals are a kick, too.
I learned of Grimus because the band includes members of another New Jersey group of which I’m a devoted fan — Windfaerer. Unfortunately, the EP you’re about to hear turns out to be the band’s last release before riding off into the sunset. The name of the EP is Anthems of Gehenna. It was released on May 13 via Bandcamp.
This is genuine war-zone death metal. It really does vividly sound like you’ve been parachuted straight into a maelstrom of munitions and mayhem, with the shrieks and howls of men in the throes of blood-lust and agony rising above the carnage.
I should add, given that this stream follows the one from Deceptionist, that there’s also a fair amount of insectile swarming to go along with the mortar bursts and whizzing bullets. Perhaps needless to say, Grimus display some serious technical chops — and a taste for eerie, wailing, unearthly melody — along with their thirst for destruction. As a trained medical professional, I must also give you a SEVERE NECK SPRAIN warning, because some massive grooves await within this EP, too.
It’s unfortunate that this is the band’s swan-song, but they’ve gone out in fine style.
I interrupt my own blathering — but not our ongoing test of skull strength — to bring you a recommendation from NCS contributor Grant Skelton — and having partaken of this music after reading Grant’s recommendation, I can attest that the music is both cataclysmic and fascinating:
Late last night, I found myself scouring the Interhole for new metal. And I don’t know if Madrid, Spain’s Hipoxia qualifies as end-of-the-week beer drinking music, but it worked wonders for me.
When I hear the music from Hipoxia’s new album Si Devs Esset Occidendvs Erit – Monvmentvm Ab Khaos I, I cannot help but imagine someone in the death throes of leprosy. Their brand of doom is scabrous, demented, and downright abusive. “E,” the vocalist, bellows as though under surgery sans anesthesia. The three tracks on this album are less like songs and more like streams of consciousness directly from the id. There is a groundswell of repressed agony in each of these compositions. And I thoroughly enjoyed each of them! Truly tormented music that I can’t recommend enough.
Si Devs Esset Occidendvs Erit – Monvmentvm Ab Khaos I is available now for €3 (less than $4).
Once again, I have my Serbian acquaintance “M” to thank for this next offering, which is an album entitled A Cold Black Day by the Swiss band Mindwarp.
I’m unable to provide a full review of this album, because my free time is being choked to death. But I’m confident you will understand what awaits you as soon as you partake of the album’s opening track, “Cold Analysis“. Because it’s as effective a piece of pure, Grade-A skull-cleaving as you could want. It’s a high-speed death metal jackhammer, with jolting grooves so potent, a drum attack so jet-fueled, and writhing guitar work so frenzied and feral that you may be left wondering whether to shit or go blind.
But there’s icing on this tasty cake — because “Cold Analysis” also includes a very sweet guitar solo that may catch you by surprise, given the brute-force physicality of the rest of the song, not to mention the thoroughly rabid vocals.
And if you dig that opening track (which I sure as hell did), there’s tons more good stuff waiting for you in the songs that follow. Highly addictive, highly head-bangable death metal spiced with alluring melodies and inflicted with eye-opening technical skill. (And if this music makes anyone else thing of the fondly remembered Dååth, please speak up so I don’t feel alone.)
P.S. I also love the bass work on this album.
If there’s any structural coherence left to your skull by now, this next song will threaten to reduce what’s left to fragments as fine as talcum powder.
The song is called “Drowning Life” by a band named Minotaur Head, which happens to be the 1000th project of the esteemed Rogga Johansson (Paganizer, Ribspreader, Megascavenger, etc), who’s Minotaur Head’s guitarist/vocalist, joined this time by the esteemed Bob Bagchus (Asphyx, SoulBurn, The Grand Supreme Blood Court) on drums. And let’s not forget the contributions on their debut album by bassist Theo van Eekelen and lead guitarist Ronnie Björnström, and guest soloists Eric Daniels and Björn Larsson, all of whom are esteemed on this end.
To my ears, this is a bit of an unusual twist on the kind of death/doom I was expecting from this duo. The music’s immense, fuzz-bombed low-end tone and the grim, swaggering riffs might seem equally at home in the music of a sludge or stoner doom band — and it sounds goddamned awesome in the deathly darkness of “Drowning Life”. This will stomp what’s left of your head into smithereens.
As mentioned, the song comes from Minotaur Head’s debut album. There’s no release date yet because the band are looking for a label; the odds of them finding one are 100%.
Treacherous hail from Columbia, South Carolina, and since December of last year they’ve been releasing tracks from their new EP on Bandcamp. There are are three of them there right now, though the full four-song EP is also available on iTunes and Spotify. I’ve embedded those three Bandcamp streams below.
Treacherous have a bent for start-stop jackhammering mixed with fluid melodic sections, leaving themselves straddling a line, with one foot in melodic death metal territory and the other foot in the deathcore barrens (and maybe a third foot on the outskirts of prog-metal, especially in the instrumental track “Timeless”). It’s fast, high-impact music with very capable musicianship at all stations, a vocalist who sounds genuinely berserk, and precocious song-writing flair.
And no, Treacherous don’t let up on the head trauma you’ve been experiencing so far in this post, though at this point the clobbering may just be reducing your already-exposed brain to goo.
(The EP was recorded, mixed, produced, and mastered by Jamie King (Human Abstract, BTBAM, Contortionist, Scale the Summit) and Tommy Rodgers (BTBAM). Treacherous plan to record a full-length with him this year.)
The veteran Irish sludge-doom earth-shakers in Slomatics will be releasing their fifth album on September 2 via Black Bow Records. Entitled Future Echo Returns, it includes seven tracks, one of which (“Electric Breath”) was premiered yesterday in video form by Stereogum.
The video, created by Dermot Faloon, is exceptionally well-done, and the song is… well… it’s titanic. True to the band’s name, it’s slow, and it’s relatively stripped-down and primitive — primitive in the sense that the extinct sauropod dinosaurs are primitive. The music is just as enormous and just as capable of making us puny humans feel… insignificant.
The high, wailing vocals contrast with the brutal distortion in the low end, but only amplify the song’s atmosphere of crushing hopelessness and unavoidable mental disorder.
The penultimate song in this large collection of skull smashers is a track called “The Cygnus Light”. It comes from an album entitled Sky Exile by a death metal band from Austin, Texas, named Vex. The album will be released on June 2nd by Eihwaz Recordings (pre-order here).
This new album (the band’s third) has been a long time coming — we premiered a song from it back in June 2014, when the album was not yet complete — but it remains eagerly anticipated and very welcome in these quarters.
As a native of Austin, I have a soft spot for bands from central Texas, and for the same reason I’m drawn to the narrative concept behind Sky Exile, as explained by principal songwriter Ciaran:
“Lyrically, the album is written as a set of journal entries from somewhere in West Texas during the torturously hot and drought-ridden summer of 2011. The overall concept is our attempt to imagine the personal narratives and forgotten histories of the abandoned houses that we so often encounter on long and lonely Texas roads.”
On the one hand, “Cygnus Light” belongs in this collection because it does an effective job of hammering the bejesus out of your head right from the beginning. But on the other hand, it abundantly display’s Vex’s talent for mixing the catharsis of hard-hitting death metal (and ravenous vocal savagery) with a kaleidoscope of other musical experiences — including a beautiful, folk-influenced acoustic section; a desolate ambient passage accompanied by spoken words; somber but gripping melodies; soaring, cosmic atmospherics; and plenty of head-swirling instrumental extravagance.
Mark my words: Sky Exile is going to make a big mark this year.
Finally we reach the end, with one more vigorous head-clubbing before you excuse yourself for a joyous trip to the hospital. This final song is a single named “Simple Skeletons”, presented in the form of a “visualizer”, which is apparently the new name for music videos.
The band is a new one named Vimic, who have received quite a bit of attention already because it was formed by ex-Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison (a revised version of his previous project Scar the Martyr) and because they have the backing of Roadrunner Records. The other band members are Kalen Chase (vocals), Kris Norris (guitar/vocals), Jed Simon (guitar/vocals), Kyle Konkiel (bass/vocals), and Matt Tarach (keyboards).
The “visualizer” is damned cool, and I think the song is, too. The industrial-metal grooves are highly propulsive; there’s a good mix of clean and absolutely vicious vocals in the song; and the melodic hooks swirling through all the pneumatic skull-smashing are damned catchy.
Yes, this is a kind of throw-back metal, but in my case it spawns a pleasant sense of nostalgia. And it definitely rattles the skull quite nicely.
“Simple Skeleton” is available as a single on iTunes (download here). The album from which it comes is named Open Your Omen and will also be released by Roadrunner (no release date set yet).