Contrary to an accusation that one of my NCS comrades recently leveled at another one, I don’t hate fun. In fact, I love it, and I enjoy seeing other people have fun. And so, although the imminent Christmas holiday means nothing to me, I’m sure I speak for all of us here (except maybe one of us) in wishing you some joy.
To ameliorate the possibility that you will have nothing in your stocking but a lump of coal because you’ve been so baaaad, and to help relieve the brain death that the stresses of the holiday season demonstrably produce, here are a few gifts from us to you.
This New Jersey death metal band turned out a hell of a debut album in 2018’s Negative Life, which Steve Schwegler (of Pyrrhon, Seputus, and Weeping Sores) beauatifully reviewed for us. I’ll excerpt just a few of his thoughts about that album:
“The death metal on display here is unapologetically New Jersey, waving the weathered banners of atonality, groove, catchiness, and humorous (not humorless) brutality. However, this isn’t just the experience of Dim Mak’s kung-fu slams, Ripping Corpse’s wacky-riffed Obituary-vocal gusto, Burnt By The Sun’s game-over blast-laden-hardcore attack, or newer-school fare from doom lords Sunrot and 7-11 necromancy from Dutchguts. It is all of these things and none of them, simultaneously.”
And why do I revisit that album now? Well, it’s because Replicant released a new EP last Friday, and it too is hellaciously good.
Hypochondria of the Machine consists of two tracks, “Hymns of Distress” and “Limbic Thrust“. The former combines eerie, warbling guitar vibrations and brutally pounding percussion, machine-gun riffs and thundering drum munitions, seething and insectile fretwork, groaning bass vibrations and vicious bellowing vox, dissonant melody and clanging atonalities.
As those descriptions suggest, the song includes many frequently changing permutations, not least of which is a remarkably dynamic drum performance. “Limbic Thrust” is likewise a dynamic affair, one that delivers both pile-driving grooves and freakishly squirming arpeggios, shrieking leads and slithering riffage. It channels both lunatic mayhem and militaristic precision, capable of scrambling your brains and mercilessly hammering your spine.
Is it too much to hope for something further from Replicant in 2020? I sure as hell hope not….
(Thanks go out to Rennie for alerting me to this release.)
Vancouver’s Nylithia have been a band near and dear to my heart for a long time — in fact, since their very first release of music. Witness the fact that I’ve written about them no fewer than 11 times since 2012, despite the relative paucity of their output. Their last full-length release — in fact their only full-length release — was the Hyperthrash album in 2015. Last year they put out a single named ““Goddamn Type 1”, which was about Type I diabetes, and was just pure Grade A electrification. And now, without any warning that made its way to me, they’ve discharged an EP by the same name.
Take a look at the lyrics for these five tracks at Bandcamp when you get a chance. The songs aren’t conceptually connected, but they channel a pretty bleak world view, with perhaps “Force the Happy” being a slight exception. However, the music is, as we’ve come to expect, nothing but high-voltage thrills.
Well, not exactly “nothing but”, as you’ll discover at the outset of the opening track and the title track, but apart from those small introductory segments Nylithia do what they do best — discharging their futuristic brand of hyperthrash with wild, adrenaline-fueled abandon. The vocals are insane, and so is the speed and exuberance of both the fretwork and the kit-work. Other bands (though not many) are capable of playing this fast and with this much technical skill, but fewer still are capable of delivering such high-octane frenzies through songs that also prove to be both groovesome and highly infectious.
As we’ve come to expect, Nylithia also spice things up with surprises… and I’m not going to spoil even one of them for you. Just take some deep and hyperventilating breaths and hit play below.
Fuck, I do love this band….
Justin Norton introduced Decibel’s premiere last week of the next song in this batch of Christmas Eve goodies by calling Wake’s upcoming album Devouring Ruin (available from Translation Loss on March 27th) “one of the most anticipated records of 2020”. He could have been speaking for me, because after being overpowered by their last album (2018’s Misery Rites), I’m more than ready for the next one.
That Decibel article also included some quotes from guitarist Rob LaChance. He characterized Devouring Ruin as “a continuance of the darkness, ferocity and speed of Misery Rites” but he also said that “musically and lyrically there is a strong melancholic mood on this one that our previous albums did not have”.
The song that was the subject of that premiere, “This Abyssal Plain“, bears out the forecast of ferocity and speed, discharging a turbocharged barrage of mauling fretwork, blazing drums, and shrieking vocal madness. But it also bears out the claim of melancholy mood, though it may be more accurate to use the word “crushing bleakness”. When the band slow the pace, the glistening leads channel sorrow and despair, and what surrounds them are the pounding sounds of oppressiveness and suffocation. Interestingly, it’s the slower segments in the song that stand out, and leave the most lingering impact.
If you’ve followed even a fraction of my scribblings for NCS then you’ll know that any project which includes Håkan Stuvemark and Rogga Johansson is going to pull me to it like iron filings to a magnet. And PermaDeath is exactly that — a collaboration between those two icons of the Swedish death metal pantheon (I’m not trying to butter them up, that’s just the way I see it).
Under the banner of PermaDeath they recorded an album entitled Vermillion, which was supposed to have been released this past spring by Hecatombe Records. Stuvemark handles the guitar, bass, and keys, while Rogga lends his scorching howls — and they were aided by drummer extraordinaire Jon Skäre and by additional vocalist Lars ”Lerta” Palmqvist.
Last April I wrote about what I thought was the title track to the new album shortly after its release, but now that the album is finally out I see that it was just an excerpt of a single album-length track, inspired (as the band say) by Edge Of Sanity’s Crimson albums. And that is a good clue about the experience of Vermillion.
After a mystical and mesmerizing introduction, Vermillion delivers a persistently gripping formulation of progressive death metal, laden with changing riffs, mercurial melodic textures, and multifarious rhythms. It gives you plenty of opportunities to go on heavyweight neck-benders (what happens at the 16:20 mark is a prime example, though not the only one), but equal opportunities to feel your mind swirling in the midst of all the changing moods and contrasting instrumental and vocal juxtapositions.
The music includes excellent singing as well as savage roaring, and what sounds like a wind instrument as well as a cornucopia of guitar tones. It becomes beautifully soulful, wonderfully glorious, and quite mesmerizing, but will also regularly pound your pulse like a jackhammer.
It’s hard to craft a composition as long as this one without risking a loss of the listener’s attention at some point (or many points), but I didn’t find my attention adrift at all. Instead, my dominant feeling was one of wonderment and joy.
PermaDeath was released by Hecatombe Records on CD in November, and it has recently been made available on Bandcamp, which is how I learned about the release.
And here’s one last nasty stocking-stuffer for you, a track that I came across for the first time just this morning. The song title is “Ycksi Lisaa“, and it’s the first-revealed track from a new album namd Ihmiskunnen Viholliset by the Finnish band Obduktio, whose music is an amalgam of crust-punk, grind, and death metal — with an extra dose of death metal on this new album.
“Ycksi Lisaa” is a brawler and a mauler, but it’s also just fucking glorious. The rocking and hammering snare rhythms and hard-punching bass lines are physically compulsive, the riffing is on fire, the reverbed vocals are monstrously demonic (and are also on fire), the blown-out energy of the song is highly contagious, and the song’s slashing chords are highly infectious too. Let me say that again: fucking glorious!
Ihmiskunnen Viholliset will be released by Caligari Records on January 21st.
We will have something, or maybe a couple of somethings, for you on Christmas Day, including a SHADES OF BLACK column, because what better way to commemorate the holy day than with a dose of slaughtering black metal. Until then, don’t eat the yellow snow.