(In this post Andy Synn has compiled reviews of six recently released EPs that will make your shut-in time more bearable.)
In the unending onrush of new albums coming out every month it’s easy to lose track of some of the smaller, though no less stellar, examples of ravaging riff-craft being released at the same time.
The thing is, sometimes what you want is more of a snack than a full meal, which is why it’s important that we make room in our schedule, now and then, to really appreciate some of the sweet metallic morsels like the six I’ve selected here today.
ABORTED – LA GRAND MASCARADE
Aborted are, of course, a band who need no introduction, and chances are that if you’ve liked anything (or everything) they’ve done before then you’re also going to like the three tracks which make up La Grand Mascarade.
That being said, if you’re a fan of the techier side of the band, then you’ll probably really like this one, as “Gloom and the Art of Tribulation”, “Serpent of Depravity”, and “Funereal Malediction” feature some of the most finger-snapping riffs, shreddiest solos, and frenzied drum work the band have ever put to tape, with the former two in particular erring more towards the technical brutality of bands like Hour of Penance and Hideous Divinity (with whom Aborted now share a bassist).
AUROCH – STOLEN ANGELIC TONGUES
Another band who should be eminently familiar to our regular readers, Auroch’s particular brand of savage, skin-stripping, technically torturous Blackened Death Metal has long been a favourite here at NCS, so any chance to hear more of their monstrous artistic output is always welcome.
As always Stolen Angelic Tongues is as complex and contorted as it is punishing and primal, every strangling sequence of blast-driven riffs and writhing rhythms constantly morphing and mutating at a vicious velocity that’s almost too much to handle. But it’s the teasing moments of (relative) calm, where the band ease off momentarily to allow the damage to sink in before doubling down on the chaotic cacophony, which will continually catch you out and leave you dizzy and breathless and hungry for more.
BECOMES ASTRAL – PURGATORY
The three tracks which make up this latest release from Canadian Progressive Death-dealers Becomes Astral together clock in at just under thirty minutes, making this EP easily the longest record featured here (as well as longer than some “full length” albums).
You’ll find that this extended run-time is more than necessary for the band to be able to squeeze in all their odd ideas and outlandish ambitions, however, with the group taking their core Tech-Death leanings and shamelessly embellishing them with extended moments of ambient atmospherics, Prog-Thrash riffage, and intricate, immersive melodies, all while keeping things focussed and flowing smoothly from start to finish.
DEVIL CITY CULT – WORLD’S TRUE ENEMIES
Stripped down, punked up, and pissed off beyond belief, the debut EP from Spanish Blackened Hardcore crew Devil City Cult doesn’t waste any time getting going, kicking off with the twisted tremolo and unrepentantly ugly grooves of “Scythe” and then proceeding to stamp, stomp, and smash you right in the face for the next sixteen minutes or so.
Unlike many bands of this ilk the Spaniards don’t balk at leaning heavily on their Punk influences (especially during the spiteful, swaggering “We Act Like Romans”), even as they let their blistering guitars and blasting drums do most of the talking for them. Not only that, but there are also flashes (such as during the eerie, John Carpenter-esque outro to “The Death and the Knife”) where the group demonstrate some more “outside of the box” ambitions, making me very curious to hear what they’ll do when they finally get around to producing a full-length album.
GALACTIC MECHANICS – THE OMINOUS QUADRANT
On their third EP, The Ominous Quadrant, Toledo Tech-Death duo Galactic Mechanics (aided and abetted by a rotating cast of guest vocalists/musicians) deliver four impressively intense tracks which, for all their obvious technical talents, never exchange ferocity for flash, or skimp on the dense, Death Metal heaviness.
Ultra-short, ultra-sharp second track “Outer World Defence Systems” is, oddly enough, the highlight of the EP – equal parts Beyond Creation and Beneath the Massacre – and packs in a frankly ridiculous number of riffs and twists and proggy embellishments over the course of just over two minutes. However there’s honestly not a weak moment here (even ambient, synth-driven outro “Aeonian Sequence” has its place), and I am already looking forward to hearing more from these guys very soon.
RIPPING FLESH – CONQUEROR OF COSMOS
Is there a word to describe this sort of simple-but-complex, dumb-but-smart style of Technical Brutality/Brutal Technicality? If there is it’s probably German, and it probably translates directly to “chunky, churning, blasting, growling, Death Metal assault”, which is exactly what you get on Conqueror of Cosmos, no more, no less.
Of course this means that you shouldn’t expect any major surprises or innovations during tracks like “Leviathan Rises” and “Abolishing Mortality”, but if you’re after a swift dose of pure sonic punishment, all topped off with some downright dirty gutturals, then give this one a listen ASAP.