Aug 132019


The four men behind Cruickshank don’t advertise their resumes, though they’re definitely not newcomers to heavy music. They’re Canadian, but probably don’t dwell in Iqaluit, Nunavut, despite what their Bandcamp page says. They obviously don’t feel confined by genre boundaries in their music, nor by any commitment to orderly song structures. In fact, the tracks on their self-titled debut album are so riotously unchained that it’s hard to imagine how they were conceived and planned out, and almost equally hard to imagine how they were executed so immaculately.

As the album blasts its way through your skull like an unstoppable juggernaut, you can grasp elements of sludge, doom, hardcore, grind, noise rock, punk, and probably some other ingredients, if you’re interested in trying to locate the songs in a genre grid. But good luck trying to come up with a hyphenated genre descriptor that you could rattle off your tongue without getting your tongue twisted. Even just trying to meticulously follow the path of the songs would be a twisted exercise. It’s better to just abandon any temptation to dissect the songs or figure out what inspired them. Turn off the rational calculator in your head and just allow yourself to be bludgeoned and bamboozled. Continue reading »

Aug 122019


Let me put my cards on the table: I am not a jazz aficionado. As only an occasional listener, off and on over the decades (and more off than on), I’m not well-educated. Yes, I’m familiar with big names such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Dave Brubeck, and perhaps somewhat more familiar with jazz musicians who’ve participated in various fusion movements, but I’m no expert. And the prospect of listening to a fusion of jazz with elements of death and black metal? To keep my cards on the table, that put me on guard, and not feeling terribly optimistic about the results.

But a feeling of intrigue, coupled with a more general hunger for metal extremity that’s off the usual beaten paths, overcame my skepticism, and I began listening to the self-titled EP of Agabas — a Norwegian group who call their music Deathjazz. Continue reading »

Aug 122019


Among the long list of adjectives that leap to mind in listening to Unburnt’s debut EP (and you’ll see many of those in the following paragraphs), the one that probably belongs at the top is “ferocious”. While the music is undeniably multi-faceted, the trip through the four tracks on Arcane Evolution is a turbo-charged rush. It propels us at high speed through a savage gauntlet of blackened death metal that’s attacking on all fronts, in breathtaking fashion. The fact that the band manage to integrate so many other experiences along the way, without ever lessening the wild savagery of the assault, is at least as impressive as their talent for obliteration.

The line-up of Unburnt combines the talents of Canadian performers from other established groups — guitarist Bo Louther (Odium), vocalist Eric Burnet (Samskaras, ex-Derelict), drummer Joe Mullen (Odium), and bassist John-Ryan Godfrey (We Are Human). They chose to form Unburnt as a vehicle for creating a different kind of metal than what any of them had been doing in their other bands, and on Arcane Evolution they’ve succeeded in splicing together an array of divergent stylistic elements in a way that’s coherent — and electrifying. Continue reading »

Aug 092019


Attention metal sophisticates and other souls in search of nuance and meticulously stitched musical finery: The door is over there. Please show ourselves out before we turn on the hellfire furnace. Those who don’t mind reveling in a bestial orgy with the hot fumes of sulphur in your nostrils and Abysmal Lord‘s teeth in your throat, make yourselves right at home.

Yes indeed, four years after their Disciples of the Inferno debut album, and following on from their 2018 split with Crurifragium, this New Orleans-based war command is returning with a new full-length — and it could hardly have been better-named: Exaltation of the Infernal Cabal. In addition to exalting the powers of hell, the music also fulfills the other meaning of that initial word — it’s exultant. Although it is a berserker form of ecstasy that explodes from the speakers, for the right kind of reveler, the album’s over-the-top mayhem is fiendishly contagious.

As a prime example of the album’s nuclear-strength depravity, we present “Nuclear Absolution” in advance of the record’s August 16 release by Hells Headbangers. Continue reading »

Aug 092019


Structural are a relatively new melodic/technical death metal band from Tel-Aviv, Israel. Formed in 2015, they released their first album, Metacognition, in June of last year, and currently have a line-up that consists of co-founding guitarist Shani Friedman, guitarist Tomer Dembinsky, vocalist Nadav Zaidman, and drummer Vadim Sergyenko.

Metacognition is a very impressive debut, a record that showcases Structural’s whiz-bang technical chops but also reveals satisfying songwriting skills, through music that combines body-wracking grooves, head-hooking melodies, and explosive energy. For the official video we’re happily presenting today, the band chose a song from Metacognition that vividly embodies all those qualities — and the video amplifies the turbo-charged power of the track through the fast-cutting sights of the band throwing themselves into their performance. The name of the song is “Turn On the Lights“. Continue reading »

Aug 082019


If you leave a sick person in one position for too long, unable to move by themselves, the mere pressure of their own weight on the bed will open draining ulcers in the skin. If untreated, the ulcers may penetrate to the muscle and the bone. Some may never completely heal.

Now, take a long, close look at Caroline Harrison‘s cover painting for the debut album of Weeping Sores.

That image, and the band’s name, are of course metaphorical. What comes through in the music of this new album, False Confession, is the sound of other wounds, of damage to the psyche and the soul brought about by other kinds of untreated pressures, some self-imposed, some inflicted as a consequence of abandonment by others, of being left in dire straits and unable to move without help, which never comes or arrives too late. Even when help comes, scars remain.

The title of the opening track on False Confession refers to scars — “Scars Whispering Secret Tongues”. As an opening statement, it makes a stunning first impression, even if you had some inkling of what might happen based on exposure to Weeping Sores‘ self-titled EP released in 2017. Continue reading »

Aug 082019


The particular brand of horror that inspires the Italian death metal band Fulci is disclosed in their name, chosen in honor of legendary Italian director Lucio Fulci, “The Godfather of Gore”, whose filmography includes “City of the Living Dead”, “The House by the Cemetery”, “The Beyond”, “The New York Ripper”, “Zombi 2”, and more. They also honor the director’s trademark graphic violence in their music, which is obliterating and eviscerating.

In 1979, Lucio Fulci achieved his international breakthrough with “Zombi 2“, a violent 1979 zombie film that was marketed as a sequel to George Romero‘s “Dawn of the Dead”, which was known internationally as “Zombi”. Fulci‘s film tells the story of a Caribbean island cursed by voodoo, whose dead residents rise as zombies to attack the living. It’s that film, “Zombi 2”, which became the basis for the latest record by Fulci (the band), a concept album called Tropical Sun that was released this past May by Time To Kill Records.

What we’re bringing you today is an official video for a track from Tropical Sun called “Legion of the Resurrected“. The video has a distinctively ’90s look, and is based on a representation of a corpse-raising voodoo ritual. Continue reading »

Aug 072019


“Hellenic black metal” could be misunderstood as simply a geographic descriptor, nothing more than a reference to black metal bands located in Greece. And if you were to survey music released over the last five years by the many fine black metal bands practicing their art from that ancient country, simply encompassing them in a straight-forward geographic category might be understandable, because that music displays considerable stylistic diversity.

But “Hellenic black metal” isn’t merely a geographic reference point. The phrase has another meaning, which refers to a distinctive combination of musical ingredients, and a certain undaunted spirit, reflected in the classic early releases of such bands as Varathron, Rotting Christ, and Necromantia. Last summer, Bandcamp Daily published a primer captioned “A Brief Guide to Hellenic Black Metal”, which included this description:

“Hellenic black metal,” as it’s often called, became a force in the cradle of Western civilization around the same time as the most infamous happenings in the Norwegian scene. Yet the bands associated with Hellenic black metal were worlds apart from the church-burning hordes—not just aesthetically, but also sonically and philosophically. The Hellenic sound was defined by an embrace of traditional heavy metal riffing, elements of Greek folk music, a reverence for epic stories rooted in the country’s history and mythology, and a sun-dappled atmosphere that places the music firmly next to the Mediterranean Sea rather than a freezing fjord”. Continue reading »

Aug 072019


The music of Cranial is primeval. It connects with elemental aspects of humankind that stretch back tens of millennia, to some unrecorded time when our ancestors had barely formed the rudiments of speech but stomped and writhed about the bonfires they had learned to make, the only accompaniment to their howling rites the pounding of stone on stone and the rhythms of the hammering blood in their veins. But cast in more modern forms, the creations of Cranial become demolition machines, vastly more powerful and destructive than their primal antecedents, yet still rooted in the sensations or fear and exultation that have always been intrinsic to our species, the fear of death, the defiance of living.

If you think that opening paragraph sounds hyperbolic, then listen to “Faint Voice” and decide for yourselves. Those of you who have encountered this German band’s previous releases won’t need convincing, and can simply revel in these 12 1/2 extravagant minutes. Newcomers might need a bit of preparation, which of course we’re happy to provide. The preparation begins by advising you not to be misled by the title of this song, which will appear on Cranial’s second album, Alternate Endings. There is a reason for the title, but there is almost nothing faint about the music. Continue reading »

Aug 062019


Trench Warfare is hatred and violence from the wasteland of West Texas. The Midland, Texas-based musicians are heavily influenced by bestial black metal, Florida death metal, and war metal. There are no beautiful melodies, no grooves, no slams, no fucking breakdowns. Just pure HATE and VIOLENCE!!!!! FUCK OFF!!!

If you have any suspicions about whether those words are accurate, let me first tell you that it’s a verbatim quote from the band’s Facebook page. And for a second thing, listen to “Decimate Legions“: Continue reading »