“Short But Sweet” is the tag we usually apply to reviews and streams of EPs and other releases that are less than album-length; we would apply the tag consistently except sometimes I forget to add it. Today I’m adding it when in one instance I probably shouldn’t, since one of the following releases is classified as an album — though it’s only about six minutes longer than one of the following EPs. But I’m late getting to it and wanted to say something about it without further delay.
This post is “Short But Sweet” for another reason: Pressed for time, I’m not able to write respectable reviews, just brief words of praise about each of these four items. I’ll add that each of these occupies a different genre space from the others, so you should check out all of them even if some don’t hit your own sweet spot.
My interest in this Kansas City death-thrashing band, whose recording roots go back into the mid-’90s, extends to the very early days of this site — the first review I wrote about their music was in May 2010, about six months after I launched NCS. I’ve written more things about them since then, not only because their music is so damned good but also because I also got interested in their personal stories.
Their latest studio album was 2015’s The Unburiable Dead; they released a live album the next year (Chaosmongers Alive). In the spring of 2019 they’re planning to release a new one named By the Light of Their Destruction, but before that happens they’re releasing four online-only “retrospective EPs”, which will include selected tracks from their discography (including albums, singles and compilations) along with previously unreleased live soundboard tracks recorded at the Metal Threat Fest in Chicago in July 2016.
The first of those four EPs, The Dust of Ages, appeared on October 1st, and the others will follow every couple of months between now and the album release. The first one launches with a hellaciously good song called “Firestorm Redemption” (the title track to their 2005 12″ EP), a vicious neckwrecker that’s an excellent introduction to the band’s slaughtering, bone-breaking, highly addictive powers (the song also features a flame-throwing solo).
The EP also includes “Ashen Glory” off 2009’s Incendiary (which alternates between beautifully dismal melodic segments and savage, rapid-fire instrumental warfare, including another eye-popping solo) and “Celestial” from 2013’s Veneration album (the EP’s longest and most multi-faceted track). These are three excellent picks, and the two live tracks are well worth hearing, too.
The whole thing is yours for One U.S. Dollar (or more if you’re feeling generous).
I first encountered this Finnish band in December of last year, when they released their first single, “Encompass the Spirit“. I wrote (here): “The song gets the blood rushing hard with battering drumwork and big booming riffs, and the tone of the lead guitar comes very close to the skirl of bagpipes. Another great strength of the song is in the vocal department, where you’ll hear the kind of savage, emotionally evocative growls that might bring Johan Hegg to mind”.
On September 25th of this year Limos released their first EP, Watching the Winds. For an EP, it’s a substantial one — four songs totaling almost 24 minutes — and it’s excellent.
If you’re looking for a genre description, I guess melodic death metal comes closest, though it’s not a perfect pigeonhole. The ferociously barbaric vocals are still riveting; there’s still a pagan-folk air to the melodies; some of the guitar leads still sound like the trill of pipes (and others like crystalline clarion calls) — and there is a grand, epic atmosphere to the music. The head-moving rhythms hit hard, and the melodies are memorable as well as vibrant and inspiring.
And this makes the third band whose past music I’ve enjoyed and who have a new release — though I’m late discovering it.
The first Woundvac music I heard was their 2017 EP Infamy, a 17-minute blast about which I wrote (here):
“These songs romp and rampage with turbocharged energy, the vocals a howling fury, the rhythm section a finely tuned yet merciless weapon, and the savage riffs and frenzied guitar leads constructed to sink their hooks in damned fast and then tear your head apart. The music makes you feel vibrantly alive, and might make you want to kill a motherfucker too”.
This Arizona band’s follow-on release, Terrorizing the Swarm, came out this past May, and it’s the one I mentioned at the outset of this post which is classified as an album. When I tell you that it’s a 13-track release but is shy of 31 minutes long, you’ll probably figure out that it’s grindcore. But this is the kind of grindcore that has pile-driving rhythmic power — you’ll figure that right off the bat with the massively head-moving groove in the very first track, “Terminus” — as well as the capacity to hit your nervous system like a live power line.
Woundvac are highly adept at launching ruthless sonic rampages (and the vocals are as raw and red as an open wound), but the songs are dynamic, punctuated with bounding punk rhythms and skull-busting hammer blows (you’ll get a chance to bang your head in every track). The songs also have individual character thanks to a seemingly endless array of catchy, abrasive riffs and electrifying leads — I can pretty much guarantee you won’t lose interest before you reach the end of this record. And as before, you might still want to kill a motherfucker.
And this makes four bands in a row whose previous music caught my ears in a good way and made me eager to hear their latest release. In this case, the band is a one-man project named Vein Collector, whose creator (Dan Guenther) is now apparently based in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The new release is a two-track single, What I Miss Most (the second song is an extended version of the title track), which includes additional vocals and lyrics by Paul Gillis of Drug Honkey and Morgue Supplier.
For those unfamiliar with Vein Collector, the kaleidoscopic music here is a highly addictive and sometimes harrowing mix of industrial and electronic music and black metal. The bright, bouncing notes and deep, pulsing beats might make you want to dance; the soaring melodies hurtle you into flight; the near-cacophonous portions might creep you out; and the unhinged harsh vocals are downright demonic (there are “clean” voices in here, too, but they also sound lunatic).