(DGR prepared this large collection of reviews and streams, addressing some older and some newer music, and some things that haven’t yet arrived in full.)
This poor review collection saw more permutations than I’d be willing to admit, with so many different groups being added and removed for fear that I hadn’t spent enough time with a disc and so wouldn’t be able to speak about it properly, that the body count has to be in the double digits by this point. What this thing did move into was something of a themed archive of releases — bookended by earlier albums but with two that are much more recent, and with preview songs from two upcoming releases in the middle to help transition over the two.
What I found I was listening to recently was the real heavy and destructive forces of powerviolence, death metal, and grind, and on the other side of the spectrum, some real caveman level prefix-core styled music as well, just ones with a taste for the symphonic and speed on top of it. It was fortuitous then that on top of that I had a small collection of singles for upcoming (maybe? in one case) releases that I wanted to talk about that felt like suitable bridges between the two, so that our esteemed editor would’ve have to cleave this poor baby in twain; it kind of felt like a perfect thematic walk along the admittedly arbitrary spectrum brought before you.
Much like my much larger review nightmare collections, this one includes four albums but with somewhat shortened reviews, and all come highly recommended. Fingers crossed, maybe you’ll find something to enjoy as well, once you’re able to scrape your face off of the wall behind you.
Sectioned – Annihilated
There have been few albums this year that I would hazard to say are quite as explosive as the first full-length release by Edinburgh, Scotland’s noise hurricane Sectioned, the name of which is Annihilated. You know you have a good disc on your hands when the album’s title almost perfectly enscapsulates the results of what has happened by the end of a listening session. Annihilated fulfills that purpose — basically barreling through your speakers from moment one in a large swirl of feedback and then relentlessly hammering at you until the moment that it is done.
Having honed their sound over the course of a few EPs and a split, Sectioned have fully matured into an otherwordly sort of violence, hybridizing powerviolence, grind, punk, hardcore, and anything else they can jam a blastbeat into. This is a thirteen-track release that is near ceaseless in its constant battering.
Annihilated powers you through it, and it has become an unlikely source of fuel to power me through the day, whether I want it to or not. From the moment its opening song — also the title track — starts, Annihilated becomes a driving force and does not let go of you until it closes out with “Through The Trees” nearly forty minutes later. The adrenaline rush is undeniable, and somehow Sectioned have found a way to continually tap that vein and make it so that Annihilated is constantly releasing a near limitless amount of energy.
While the song “Annihilated” itself makes for a monstrous first impression, the album finds its footing and develops a mean streak in the middle of the disc for about four-to-five songs, a blur of non-stop violence that becomes monstrous in the way it reaches out to listeners and shakes them about. Beginning at “Synchronicity” and barely ceasing to take a breath until the closing of “Victorious, Neverending”, Sectioned have created one of the most pyrotechnic collections of songs out there, and they’ve surrounded them with four songs on each side of equal measure.
It’s hard to describe just how non-stop Annihilated is, but the whole mood is probably encapsulated by the highlight of the album, “Toothgrinder”, which manages to pack just about every single thing that defines the album into two-minutes-and-forty-fve seconds, ending on a massive chugging gallop and breakdown as the band are screaming ‘We’re all just begging to be free’. The constant shifting of the instruments throughout the song make it so that the listeners will find themselves in a mental game of Cliffhanger, fingers barely clinging on the edge as they are spun around violently, getting closer and closer to being tossed off each time.
Moments like that are packed throughout Annihilated — so many of them that it’s hard not to go through the whole disc repeatedly. It’s so densely packed with different sections of utter ferocity that different days bring wholly different discoveries. Only two songs later even, there’s another rush on equal footing with “Toothgrinder” on the ass-kicking front, with the band just screaming ‘do you hate me?!’ over-and-over again, combined with a series of relentless blasts and a wall of sound to close out “Bete Noire” .
It’s easy to go through and pick apart the different elements that make up Annihilated; it’s easy to see how the band’s earlier music could draw comparisons to The Dillinger Escape Plan, and that influence still runs deep in this release in the sheer amount of guitar work going on here — but it’s also easy to recognize the noise-artistry that is the current love of many a current band out there, with shades of Wake especially apparent throughout Sectioned’s thirteen-song expulsion.
However, just because one can see the various strains that make up the band’s full-length doesn’t necessarilly mean that the ‘witnessing the gears turning’ effect comes into play here, as Sectioned’s constant cranking of every aspect up to 110 tends to be almost overwhelming. It’s the constant usage of these strains throughout that keeps Annihilated interesting from front-to-back, and has made my own personal love affair since the disc’s release in April only that much more torrid.
Like some of my other favorite releases, it has quickly become a default go-to throughout the year. When I can’t settle on anything else, or need something to drive me through whatever next shitshow-operation work has me doing, that quickly becomes the defining philosophy for the next press of the play button. By their sheer driving force and energy alone, Sectioned have quickly rocketed into the ‘you absolutely have to listen to this at max volume’ column this year. It isn’t so much a recommendation at this point as it is me screaming at you: Annihilated is something you should not miss out on.
Born To Murder The World – The Infinite Mirror Of Millenial Narcissism
Defining a supergroup in heavy metal is often an esoteric exercise, because the ‘super’ often has to be hemmed and hawed over in its own right. The debate over which criteria should apply to the word ‘super’ often becomes more the focus than who the fuck is actually in the band. Often it’s a fame thing, and other times it’s sheer prestige, when members of bands who played on seminal albums all come together to form their own mass — and more often than not bellyflopping with a dull thud in the process.
Which is why Born To Murder The World is interesting. Even though they don’t say it, a three-way collaboration featuring minds involved with Fukpig (Duncan Wilkins), Anaal Nathrakh (Mick Kenney), and Napalm Death (Shane Embury) is, if not the definition of a gigantic band in its own right, probably the most tailor-made band for DGR tastes out there so far.
The funny part about Born To Murder The World‘s debut album The Infinite Mirror Of Millenial Narcissism is that it sounds EXACTLY like one would expect from a project involving Mick Kenney, Shane Embury, and Duncan Wilkins – especially on the grind aspect of their three other bands. Ugly and snarling all the way through, Born To Murder The World have carved out a very specific niche for themselves with their incredibly loud branch of fast-moving deathgrind, and in doing so they have put out one of the better ‘proof of concept’ style albums out there to date.
The Infinite Mirror Of Millenial Narcissism is blindingly fast, the whole twelve-song release clocking in at just a tad over fifteen minutes and moving at a feverish pace the whole time. You’ll recognize a lot of what is happening within this one. It’s pretty clear Mick Kenney is involved, given the gigantic wall of sound being put forth from the never-ending blast that propels the album forward to just how huge the guitars sound across the whole disc, and you’ll definitely notice Shane’s grind-sensibilities in much of the songwriting, including multiple shades of his time spent in Lock Up, with many of the songs having a sudden start/stop nature and many times throughout the disc just going for the quick ‘1-2-3-4’ count before barreling into the next swirling mass of guitar riffs and thundering rhythm section behind it.
The combination of those two men forces vocalist Duncan Wilkins to go almost inhuman throughout much of the disc, delivering a shaking collection of banshee shrieks and monstrous snarls to fill out the whole album, barking out words at a rapid-fire pace before devolving into an unintelligible mass of screaming alongside the crashing wall of music tumbling around him. There’s a whole lot of fun to be had in the lyrics-deciphering game on this one.
With songs covering the gamut from eighteen seconds to a little over two-minutes-and-thirty seconds, The Infinite Mirror Of Millenial Narcissism is best taken in as one solid blast — which is probably what the Born To Murder The World crew meant for you to do as well. The breathless nature of the disc makes it so that each song plows into the following track. At times the sheer collage of noise makes it seem like the previous song continues to play while the next song gets started, creating train-car pileups in song form. That experience becomes one of Born To Murder The World‘s trademarks by the time their fifteen minutes are up.
It’s a ton of fun to let the sort of constant and neverending rage contained within this release just wash over you. The folks who make up Born To Murder The World have long trafficked in that field, so it makes perfect sense that their debut album would have that part down to a science. While the small collection of thirty-second noise explosions that pepper the album are a lot of fun in their own right, it’s better to just do the whole affair in one run, because that is how the ugly and growling creature that is present here really shows itself.
As a debut album, Infinite Mirror Of Millenial Narcissism makes one thing shockingly clear, which is that Born To Murder The World have their songcraft down. What sort of messy and angular collages they make after this initial batch bursts forth will continue to be a very interesting endeavor to keep one’s eye on.
Psychotic Pulse – Opposed (two-song preview)
There was a part of me that wondered just how I was going to transition out of the chaotic and electronic noise compositions that fueled the opening two bands of this here collection and into the more burly deathcore-fueled, breakdown chugs and all, segment that makes up the back half. But suddenly my neurons were lit aflame by a reminder that Canada’s Psychotic Pulse have a new album upcoming this year (due for release on September 10th), entitled Opposed. That album is due out fairly soon, and alongside their cover of Sacrifice’s “Hiroshima” the group have uploaded the first two tracks of their new industrial-death groove collection to the world.
The two tracks available so far, the titular “Opposed” and “The Order Of The Emperor”, are a welcome return for a band who’ve had some fluid lineups over the past few years, resulting in a five-year gap between their Avolition EP and the upcoming Opposed. Even though we’ve penned a few words about Psychotic Pulse over the years, there’s still plenty who may be unfamiliar with the group’s fiercely precise approach to groovier death metal with a very light electronics layer deposited over the top of it, which helps give the band a thundering production style that hammers alongside each chugging riff. More precise headbanging and less sub-conscious neck spasm, for lack of a better phrase.
The “Opposed” song and album opener is the bruising groover of the two available now, and it shares a lot in common with the group’s self-titled 2013 release, whereas “The Order Of The Emperor” goes for the loud and fast approach — bearing in mind that all of this has that very light layer of electronics and feedback-filled production on top of it.
Granted, it doesn’t seem like Opposed is going to stay too far from the group’s previous album — though new vocalist Kyle Clyma is making one hell of a first impression — and if it turns out Opposed is a strong collection of ten Psychotic Pulse songs that just expand a bit on what we already know, that’s going to be great as well. I thought that on their debut the crew had a really strong idea of how mean you can make some modern death-and-groove metal sound, and hearing them continue with that is something to look forward to.
Clandestine Revelation – Perpetual Dismay
Since we’re bouncing throughout the year let’s break things up a bit and just post a single song, one that came out a few months ago but is very promising. It comes from a local Sacramento band, Clandestine Revelation. They are a young group, with just a four-song EP and a single to their name so far.
The initial reason I began paying attention to the band since their very first release was that their first song, “Flames Ov Oblivion“, showed that someone in that band really fucking liked Behemoth. Since then the band have changed a bit, bringing themselves much more in line with the blackened deathcore realm with a very light symphonic element, and the group’s song “Perpetual Dismay” is a pretty solid demonstration of that. Jam-packed with massively dumb and thudding riffs, “Perpetual Dismay” is a purposefully huge-sounding song that has the band not only appealing to the more caveman slamming metal fans amongst us, but also working in plenty of death metal blasts to complement their many angular forms and transitions.
While the band haven’t done much in the way of updating since the single’s release — actually having been pretty quiet overall — it still seemed worthy to share this song in between the meatier entrees in the feast of music prepared here.
The Breathing Process – Samsara
Part of me is geninely overjoyed that The Breathing Process are back. There was something about the band’s maelstrom combination of death metal, deathcore, symphonic black metal, and all the other various genre spectra included to a lesser extent that made the group’s first two albums, In Waking: Divinity and Odyssey (Un)dead, geniune adventures. They took their songs beyond just constant meat-headed rhythm collections with synth over it (though to be fair, I enjoy that a ton too) and into a realm both impressively melodic and dynamic.
Odyssey (Un)dead, especially, was an album that I felt I had done wrong by, initially giving it the ‘yeah, this is pretty enjoyable’ treatment when I got a hold of it and then years later realizing just how much I enjoyed that disc’s first eight songs before it tails off a bit. That disc and its predecessor have received constant spins since then, but for a while it looked like those 2008 and 2011 releases would be it from the group for a very long while. That changes with this year’s Samsara release – an album whose recording the group had been slowly documenting via Facebook live, but whose release details were unclear until a scant few weeks ago when the band dropped the sudden bombshell that it would be out at the end of August.
While a lot can be discussed about how this year especially has proven fruitful for many bands who’ve decided to return after years of dormancy, the return of The Breathing Process feels especially big, if only because the two or three genres the band used to play with had deformed and mutated numerous times in the seven-year gap between discs.
Samsara is a huge album, with The Breathing Process packing a ton of little symphonic and keyboard touches in between every gigantic guitar riff and death metal drill. Those accents aren’t as prominent as they were on previous albums but it is still a gigantic part of Samsara’s DNA. What space was left behind by the lessened focus on that aspect of the band’s sound is filled by vocalist Cody Harmon, whose transformations across a multitude of death growls and shrill shrieks finds him filling the air far more than one would expect, turning his voice into another layer of sound to add to the band’s already gigantic arsenal, and not just a method for lyrics delivery. After Samsara’s quiet intro bit, the first impression of the guy has him staying in the range of a high-shriek more attuned to black metal than what the band’s previous albums might suggest, and when he does finally drop into a harsher bark and a more bludgeoning bellow it comes right alongside the band’s shifting of gears from ‘epic’ into a more familiar ‘brutality’.
An interesting thing about Samsara is that while The Breathing Process have been dormant for many years, the music doesn’t reflect that at all, as they have adopted and adapted some of the more current trends into their already massive sound. Tracks like “Into The Night” and “Supervoid” can feel more like your traditional deathcore bruisers while others have the band going much more experimental, with different rhythmic bits snaking their way through songs. Sometimes they go for the minimalism of just having the vocalist roar with the rest of the band quietly sustained behind him. At other times they go for the full melodic approach, which actually gave me my favorite moment on the disc, which is the back-half of “The Nothing” where the song shifts from the slow description of suffocation into an absolutely destructive force with the keyboard and guitar melodies echoing one another.
Given the many different elements that are mixed into the genre-ghoulash that could best describe Samsara, the album proves to be a rollercoaster, dynamics-wise. It changes itself over from bruiser to symphonic to the combination of the two, from an even quicker-moving, near-melodeath segment briefly to the keyboard swells in the opening of “Sungrazer”, which for about forty seconds becomes the new standard by which that specific style should be defined. At forty-five minutes, Samsara is a healthy beast of an album that offers numerous auditory beatings.
By song three, you’ll recognize a lot of what makes the monster tick, but The Breathing Process have used their time away to fully hone in on what works for this album, transforming it from an endless procession of chugging into the sort of annihilating blast-fueled force that many of us enjoy. If you’re on the hunt for the driving rhythms of a more -core focused nature, with a heavy emphasis on a symphonic black metal aesthetic, The Breathing Process absolutely nail it on Samsara. Like its predecessors, there’s so much compacted down within its forty-five minutes that I’ve continued to find things, even in the short time I’ve had it since release. This is another easy recommendation in an archive full of them.
Depths Of Hatred – Bloodguilt
Since we’re in the ‘black metal colliding with -core’ realm we would be remiss not to mention that Depths Of Hatred have a new EP, complete with a new vocalist in tow. Bloodguilt hit way back in the ancient days of the end of July this year via Prosthetic Records and marks the first recorded effort with vocalist Nico Monette on the microphone, and the first breath of life from the band since the “Accursed Demise” single in 2016 and their Hellborn album back in 2014.
Bloodguilt makes for an interesting comparison to its older sibling Hellborn for a few reasons. One of the main collective reasons why Depths Of Hatred were often colored as having a shade of black metal alongside their deathcore beatings was a combination of previous vocalist Dominic D.D spending much of his time in an insanely high-register shriek and the band’s chosen speed being just one shade shy of hyperfast. In fact, much of Hellborn is colored by that. It could best be described as eleven songs written at exactly the same time, and for much of it at exactly the same tempo; it puts its foot on the accelerator on song one and never lets up from there. Granted, if you really like that approach it turns out excellently, and having witnessed Depths Of Hatred live a couple of times now, it’s a lot of fun there as well.
Bloodguilt‘s five songs and intro are a little different on that front. They actually slow things down some, and vocalist Nico goes beyond just a massive high shriek and brings the group down a couple octaves into the lower realm as well. It’s still very much in Depths Of Hatred‘s comfort zone, but in between the blasting fury of “An Infidel’s Dissent” hearing the band go for a huge mid-tempo chugging riff with low growls on the menu as well feels like a partial throwback to 2012’s Aversionist disc.
Bloodguilt‘s twenty-plus minutes have Depths Of Hatred bringing themselves a little more in line with the current blasting-core-heavy music scene, though they’re still comfortably in their own sphere simply because they still deliver their trademark shrill-and-speed in spades. The “Bloodguilt” song is impressively mean and makes good usage of the band’s sense of guitar melody, which they interweave across a few of the songs on this EP, especially closer to the end of the title track as the closing solo comes in with the band behind it in full artilllery mode, before that gives way to the same symphonic and piano work that opened the whole affair, helping tie off the whole EP with a neat bow.
“The Nail Remains” is a pretty good example of this as well, as you’ll hear a lot of Hellborn in its opening drill but that guitar melody is one which seems to pop up constantly both there and in each of the songs on Bloodguilt, while the vocal work is much more brutal death than before.
Bloodguilt is a lot of headbanging fun. Though a lot less speedy-and-shrill black-metal than before, it’s still a tremendously hammering experience. Since Bloodguilt somewhat marks a new era for the Depths Of Hatred crew — as lineup shifts are prone to do — it will be fun to see what they draw from the core of the album as a whole and how they expand upon it in the future. Do they go the more brutal death and slamming route, defined largely by downward-focused rhythms meant to snap necks, or do they hold on to their blasting elements and go the more nail-shredding and vicious route? Since Bloodguilt is a Venn diagram of the two, part of the intrigue will be discovering just where they travel from here.