Oct 242022

(Here we present Wil Cifer‘s review of the new album by the New York City black metal collective Black Anvil, which is due out on November 4th via Season of Mist.)

Not unlike many American Black Metal bands, Black Anvil did not evolve from a LARPing past littered with Manowar cassettes and 20-sided dice, but from the punk scene.

The band’s founding members paid their dues in the hardcore band Kill You Idols. Where many hardcore scensters felt the next cool bandwagon to jump upon would be black metal, whose European counterparts shared a similar DIY aesthetic, for Black Anvil the common ground was aggressive emotional outburst, which the band continue to refine into a sound that is just as legit as any essemblege of Scandinavian headbangers. Continue reading »

Sep 282022

(Detroit’s Acid Witch have a new album headed our way (of course the release day is on Halloween), and in the following review Wil Cifer shares his thoughts about it.)

This morning, I took a break from checking out the updates as to when Hurricane Ian will be coming to rock my neighborhood like the Scorpions, and found the new Acid Witch in my in-box. The anxiety left me when I pressed play. While Ian might rain on my Halloween parade going into the first weekend in October, these guys kept my spirits up.

The bar is set high since these guys are one of my favorite bands. Dressing death metal up like a Spirit Halloween Store on LSD is a beautiful thing that speaks to my soul on every level. The first track is spooky intro with just enough metal to foreshadow what is to come. Continue reading »

Aug 292022


(This is Wil Cifer‘s review of the new album by Britain’s Conan, released earlier this month by Napalm Records.)

Conan the Barbarian from Cimmeria is one of my favorite fictional characters, so a band named after him did not sit well, nor would I want a band called Bruce Banner or Frankenstein’s Monster sitting in my iPod. This set my mind against this British band when I checked out their first album. It felt like burly but otherwise nondescript sludge that did not impress me. Now, four albums worth of time has passed and I have put that behind me and was ready to listen to their newest album objectively.

It carries a great deal of thundering thump that resonates with more sonic heaviness than their first album. The vocals are howled with more conviction. Often labelled as doom, rather than a depressed plod, they lunge into an aggressive tempo for “Levitation Hoax” , and have a rawer, more sludged-out apocalyptic darkness to their sound. They even delve into more traditional, almost modern metal, grooves on songs like “Ritual of Anonymity” to create a flowing pulse of menace. “Equilibrium of Mankind” has a heavier weight to its throb. The tempo is less aggressive than the previous song. Continue reading »

Aug 012022


(This is Wil Cifer‘s review of the new Chat Pile album, released last Friday, July 29th, by The Flenser.)

Perhaps this band from Oklahoma City once fit within the neat parameters of a metal subgenre. Then marijuana in their fair city was grown much stronger. Sure, aside from “medical use” the groovy green is illegal, but the sounds made on this album have been created by deeply troubled young men who must surely qualify at dispensaries. Even if they do not, metal is still the music of the outsider. An outsider is not just outside of social norms, but the laws of said norms are coughed at as well. Often with a red-eyed grin.

This band embrace their dark side, though from all the pot talk thus far you must imagine them to be on the wavelength of Sleep or Bongzilla. This is not the case. They are more abrasive than either and owe more to Black Flag than Sabbath. They are angry and put those feelings out on their instruments. Continue reading »

Jul 152022

(We present Wil Cifer‘s review of the new album by Singaporean grinders Wormrot, which was released by Earache Records on July 8th.)

Grindcore in and of itself is not typically my thing. There are bands like Portrayal of Guilt and Nails that I am a fan of who started as grindcore and evolved past the temper tantrums of their youth to find themselves in a dark space in life that they lashed out at with their instruments in a more variable sonic manner. As for Wormrot, I have heard their previous work, which proves them as being one of the most polished acts in the genre.

My ears have to warm up to what they do on the new album, as the first song and the second song run together before these sounds begin to catch my ears, like the briefly sung vocals on “Broken Maze”. This album finds them embracing a wider range of vocal styles. This is one of the album’s strengths; though this is bittersweet, due to the fact the singer parted ways with the band after this was recorded. Rather than a swan song it feels like they are coming into their own as songwriters here, even if the songs are only a minute long. Continue reading »

Jun 212022


(Here’s Wil Cifer‘s review of a new album by the Los Angeles death metal band Zous, which was released at the end of May by Closed Casket Activities.)

This might seem weird since I am normally the guy who covers the darker more post-punk leaning bands or classic traditional metal. I do like more overtly heavy stuff as well, since during most of my teens I was into hardcore. By hardcore, I mean I saw the Cro-Mags on the “Age of Quarrel” tour while wearing my first pair of combat boots.

This solo project Zous from Nails drummer Taylor Young celebrates various shades of heavy that I love, as they are all nihilistic and dark in their wrathful pummeling. Young wrote, performed, produced, and engineered this entire album. He did enlist his buddies to come in and help out when it is time for the obligatory guitar solo.

This project was intended as old school death metal. It might never chug in the direction of the many Meshuggah worshippers or employ In Flames-inspired guitar harmonies; it does grind and crunch with more of a modern hardcore feel than anything in the zip code of Morbid Angel. Continue reading »

Mar 292022


(Wil Cifer reviews the first new album in a decade by the German post-metal band Sundowning, which is out now via Isolation Records.)

In today’s bleak world I have taken to leaning into that feeling of impending doom. Whatever you resist persists, so in seeking to cocoon myself in sonic darkness as the soundtrack for the road the world is going down I found this German band. Their hymns of hopelessness are a perfect fit.

They meet at the crossroads of doom, sludge and sometimes death metal. Less of the crust-punk recklessness sludge evolved from and a darker, more mournful sound. This sentiment leads them in more of a doom direction most of the time. Guitars weep against the pounding the rest of the band bring, while the vocals stay in more of a hypnotic chant. Though when the instrumentation ebbs back, growled vocals shift the narrative tone. Continue reading »

Mar 142022


(In this post Wil Cifer reviews the sophomore album by Dead Register, which is set for release on May 13th by Seeing Red Records.)

This Atlanta trio has graced a few of my end of the year best of lists. They are known for flirting with various shades of heavy, sludge and doom being the two sub-genres that come closest to describing the darkness thickly emoted from the sonic swathes they summon, using only bass, synths, and drums as the primary instrumentation. Their new album finds the band continuing deeper into the despairing abyss their previous work has gazed into. This time around the grooves are just more refined.

The title track that opens the album carries a sleek industrial stomp. The drumming gives the vocals plenty of room to lament. At times the tension has a shadowy post-punk feel, but with more oppression to its heavy-handed melancholy. Continue reading »

Feb 112022


(This is Wil Cifer‘s review of the new album by California-based Author & Punisher, which is being released by Relapse Records today.)

It would have been easy for Tristan Shone to have just coasted for the rest of his career by being known as the dude who makes music with these machines he built. His early work consisted of very aggressive and dense slabs of industrial steamrolling that droned you into submission.

It was a very powerful-sounding juggernaut. Just creating a sound was something he was content with, and by Women and Children” he added more atmosphere and melody, writing songs that stuck with you and placed him alongside any of his peers. This earned him a spot on my list of most anticipated albums of this year. He has exceeded my expectations with his newest release. It is not likely this album is going to convert you into a fan of industrial music, but will at the least endow fans of heaviness with respect for what is being done here. Continue reading »

Jan 252022


(Wil Cifer made an unexpected discovery when coming across a new album by the New York hardcore band Age of Apocalypse, which was just released by Closed Casket Activities, and he provides an enthusiastic review below.)

This album was on my top 10 most anticipated albums of the year list. Where most albums on the list I had not heard, the stream of this was sitting in my in-box. However I tell record labels this all the time, that I will only listen to a stream a few times. I either review it as I listen or just move on to the next album waiting in the in-box. I need to have an album on my iPod, to provide the soundtrack for my day in order to fully absorb and unlock the creative puzzle of what it is about. Otherwise I am mainly going off my first impressions, which might not be wrong, but are not fully explored or researched if you will.

My first impression of this album was that it could have come out in the ’90s. This is a compliment, for the ’90s were a very awkward decade for metal. While death metal really came into its own, other genres found themselves trying to shed the arena sparkle of the ’80s as they were caught between grunge and a hard place.

Some great albums emerged in that period that were not affected by the collision of the decades, one of them being Life of Agony’s 1993 album The River Runs Red. An album this band would have drawn inspiration from as they share a great deal of common ground with it. Continue reading »