Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Witchrist - The Grand Tormentor (2012)

Full Length, Osmose Productions
June 4th, 2012

Genre: Death Metal
Region: New Zealand

This is a record I've been patiently anticipating. The perfect record for post #500. Witchrist are probably at the top of the pile of newer-old school death metal acts alongside Antediluvian, Ignivomous and Mitochondrion and it was Beheaded Ouroboros that solidified that spot. Now with their second full length there can be no doubt that they have a tightening grip on that position.

The Grand Tormentor is oppressive. It is surrounded in a grainy, pitch black shroud of production to achieve this. Songs of untold hideous realms make up this 50 minute chilling trek into the clouded pits of horror that is Witchrist's lair. It is a record that summons a war lust draped in terrifying and cold darkness.

Opening with far off whines and ghostly cathedral bells the first monolithic track "Into the Arms of Yama " staggers forward heavily with an aberrant grace that builds at a crawl. It's doomy and foreboding until the scratchy tremolo riffs emerge to grasp at the acrid atmosphere, bringing the distorted death riffs into a blackened caress.

From this track onward it is just a torrent of scalding, primitive death metal that plows straight to the depths of disgust and vitriol. All the greatness of their previous record is ratcheted up ten-fold here. The lyrics centered on old eastern gods and goddesses invoked during battle and defiled by each other, frightening serpents bringing destruction, war, etc. The jagged, muddy, painful riffs peppered with brief and chaotic whammy solos, the waves of putrid roars, the dirty flurry of drums, the rough bass growls — it's all amplified and tailored brilliantly.

While this is a murky sounding record everything is pretty damn clear (which might be a negative for some) and nothing gets too lost in the chaos outside of the bass. The riffs spiral and churn above everything, illuminating the unbearable darkness with an unrestrained, head-splitting tone and creative serpentine structures. "Meditation For Sacrifice" contains some truly wicked riffs from the opening undulating tremolos to the crushing slow chords so heavy they breath malice that they are followed by; the combination of both later is tremendous. Near the end it gradually slows again with some spiking pinched harmonics which I fucking love when they're used sparingly and well.

The songs vary quite a lot in terms of length. On shorter ones like "Wasteland of Thataka" or "Exile" there's some deliciously built, raw and aggressive riffs as there are on "Cast Into Fire" — a track that burns like molten lead on soft flesh. Regardless of the length of the tracks here they all feel deliberate, well paced, and are examples of excellent writing. Tracks like "The Tomb" are incredibly simple and have all the same elements of the previous ones while managing to stand out with a fine use of hammer-ons, a few chunky grinds, and a writhing, filthy solo.

"Beyond Darkness And Death" (which isn't listed on the tracklists I've seen online) is steeped with feedback as the militaristic drum patterns rise, pounding relentlessly in the beginning and with the riffs following this example. They turn to a thrashy pitch suddenly before again hitting twisted and violent spires of tremolos, and again crawl to a halt near the end ushering in a hellish doom tone.

All the way through The Grand Tormentor I never found myself losing interest. It's a record that catches you effortlessly despite it's deceptively simple, orthodox style. "Funeral Lotus" is the final track and second monolith on the record  (almost reaching 10 minutes) closing it off perfectly. Shaking with a string of goliath drawn-out powerchords and hammer-ons with slow clash of cymbals and vile utterances to flank them, the dragging pace is kept even once the slice of the tremolo section breaks in. These moments trade off a few times during the course of the song but never lose their force. Eventually everything settles on the excruciating pace found in the first moments, trudging to the end while a cycling noise builds — the final moments are opened up to chanted "auns", creaking silence and (as in the opener) faint clangs of church bells.

There's something to be said about an album in a very saturated, beat-to-death genre that is almost an hour long, entirely memorable and yet feels like it has flown by once you've reached the end. I was skeptical as to whether Witchrist would be able to follow up (let alone top) their last record but my skepticism has been obliterated here. It's clear that this record builds carefully on their solid foundation set in Beheaded Ouroboros and shapes it into something even more perverted and brooding.

You should get this. No questions, just go out and buy this fucker. One of the top death metal albums this year next to the new Ignivomous, Wrathprayer, Pseudogod, etc. Head over to Osmose Productions to grab it on either vinyl or cd. Both come with more wonderful and disturbing art from Alexander Brown.

This is a vinyl rip.

DOWNLOAD (Mediafire)
DOWNLOAD (Zippyshare)

Pseudogod - Deathwomb Catechesis (2012)

Full Length, Kvlt / Hells Headbangers
April 24th, 2012

Genre: Black Metal/Death Metal
Region: Russia

I'm very late on this one.

Satanic blackened-death fury from Russia. Deathwomb Catechesis opens with cathedral choirs which may lull you into a false sense of security but this is soon shattered by the vicious attack that follows. One might be expecting a traditional bestial assault but while those elements do make an appearance there seems to be a more refined and complex creature lurking within.

Weaving through the drum blasts and barbarous growls the riffs here are brutal and quick. Rather than circling the dissonance drain or wallowing in in the blood of Incantation the guitar is a bit more aggressive, fast paced and bright. There is an undercurrent of technical proficiency without unneeded flare here and rather is reliant on catchy, bouncy, loud grinds that are obviously structured traditionally but manage to skirt too much retreading. This goes for the drumming too: it's ridiculous, moving at blistering speeds. Yes there are momentary lapses into dissonance or sustained dischord but it's used well and sparingly between the furious shreds that mangle themselves into their tremolo equivalents.

Violent and blinding powerchords slam into each other leaving little room breath, churning into an abominable bloody froth. Only a few slower sections are found, such as midway through "Saturnalia", "Necromancy of the Iron Darkness" or "Azazel" and they crush with wicked sways just as much as the clamoring decimation on either side of those moments. "The Triangular Phosphorescence" is quite a hefty final heave of the album, starting off with slow, bubbling dirges and shifting pace at various points with one of the finer moments of cacophony on the album in the middle and then again at the end; crawling at first and then carrying into the hyperspeed percussion. Really a great closer to the album.

What's nice about Deathwomb Catechesis is that while it does fall into the category of the "new wave" of death and black metal revitalization without a doubt it is able to separate from the bestial and war metal tropes a little more than others. It's not breaking new ground but it has definite power behind it.

Another one I'd recommend highly. If you want it you can pick this up over at Hells Headbangers.

DOWNLOAD (Mediafire)
DOWNLOAD (Zippyshare)

Wrathprayer - The Sun of Moloch: The Sublimation of Sulphur's Essence Which Spawned Death and Life (2012)

Full Length, Osmose Productions / Nuclear War Now! Productions
June 13th, 2012

Genre: Black Metal/Death Metal
Region: Chile

Prepare for a grotesque and bestial assault from the darkest bowels of Chile. The Sun of Moloch has risen to cast its searing rays upon us all.

Wrathprayer engulfs listeners in the scorching fumes of ripping, gritty riffs and an ominous, archaic atmosphere. Beginning with a to-be-expected dark occult intro to set the atmosphere (paired with a similar outro) the cruel nature of this album is slowly revealed. It becomes sluggish and dissonant before tumbling into chaotic swelling riffs with distant, cavernous vocals and storming percussive barrages.

Its a smooth balance between death and black metal that revels in the old path, maintaining a depraved and sour tone one would expect and at the same time satisfyingly revitalizing it.

And this is generally how The Sun of Moloch feels throughout the 40 minutes you'll be enduring. Baneful, filthy and swirling in it's blasphemous tone. The record is spilling over with a ritualistic heat which incorporates the Incantation structure well with touches of Portal-esque writhing. Eerie sampling of discordant strings, screams, chants and moans with ambient rumbling accents some tracks like "The Darkest Fyre" and "From the Depths of the Phlegethon" sliding up the cult factor a few notches.

Vocal duties (more varied than expected) feel a little subdued by all other elements — there are some great echoing howls and screes that snake their way through. It does sound as if the vocals are emanating from a lightless tomb and considering the nature of the subject and style here matter this distant, ancient quality is a positive. 

The bulk of the experience here surrounds the guitar work which doesn't meander from the traditional bestial template too much — not that I'm really complaining. It's all ugly, abrasive and tasty. The guitar tone is muddy in the most pleasurable way. A choice few spellbinding death grooves and pinched harmonics between the onslaught of blackened, labyrinthine tremolo sections but when these slabs enter it's a fucking blast as they carve out deep ridges in the darkened, ashy landscape. Good examples of these completely monstrous and punishing moments are found in "Devourers of Light", "Ritualization (Rev XIII)" and "In Visceribus BestiƦ".

The Sun of Moloch does its job exceedingly well, paced so as to not overextend its welcome with some thick production. It's certainly not innovative but fucking terrific regardless.

Definitely a record that slays. Highly recommended especially for fans of Witchrist, Mitochondrion, Antediluvian, Teitanblood, etc. For now this is only available on vinyl through Nuclear War Now! Productions but in the coming weeks they will be putting it up for a digital download on the label's bandcamp page.

DOWNLOAD (Mediafire)
DOWNLOAD (Zippyshare)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Titan - Burn (2012)

Full Length, Hypaethral Records / React With Protest
June 29th, 2012

Genre: Sludge/Hardcore
Region: Canada

And here it is! The first full length from Canadian sludge act Titan. I've been given the pleasure of reviewing it a little early. It's been in the works a while and from the live version of some of the songs I've heard ("The Fire Sculptures", "Little Seeds", "Indulgence") I already had a feeling it was going to live up to expectations. And now it's on the cusp of being released upon the world.

Burn (another album mastered by Colin Marston) is something for this Toronto group to be proud of. I'm not going to argue it breaks molds or is hugely innovative but what it does do is raise this band up high on the list of sludge/hardcore acts that deserve a lot of attention. They have created an enormous sound which does serve to separate them from most others that reside in this fusion of genres. It is a commanding, extremely loud and passionate album that refines and cements Titan's sound into something that shouldn't be ignored.

Somehow James' vocals here are even more ferocious and loud then on their previous records. His presence is utterly overwhelming, and the energy he displays in every song on Burn is something to be revered. Harsh and vicious in tone. Even when he reaches down to a lower throaty growl (as on "Indulgence" and "Sermon") this power is not lost. It is enough to peel the paint from the walls. You can taste the wickedness in his passionate delivery of each line, the melancholic and serious tone invigorates the listener especially in his more drawn-out yells. The guy has mad pipes.

James gives this record true immensity alone (even without taking into account the riffs and drumming) and this is immediately shown on the opener "Feast" which strikes a devastating blow, plowing down the listener with an imposing tower of shaking riffs and beastly roars. The main rhythm is killer enough but then the song slows, and when the energy returns and builds after a solo bass line it becomes something far more mighty. It's definitely one of my favorite tracks on Burn next to "Warmer Months" and "Telepaths."

I mentioned it before in my review of "Colossus" but again compared to his solemn, silent, brooding position in Gates the contrast here is jarring. There are also the added vocal talents on "Myopic" from Chris Colohan (of Cursed and Burning Love) who is someone that always brings an added element of terrifying aggression to any project he touches, and it's no different here.

Speaking of riffs: the ease with which Titan blend swirling hardcore and sludge with atmosphere is astonishing. Chris W. and Brandon comfortably shift between screaming powerchord leads, thrashy, dirty galloping and strings of tremolo picking, to a doomy series of sustained notes and chords, and then on to huge distorted crushing slabs of sludge that rock and lean back and forth with purpose — often all in one track (certainly the longer ones like "Warmer Months", a volcanic track, which really helps ward off any sense of monotony). The formula is straight-forward but dense and very energetic.

The yearning dirges that build slowly, occasionally harmonizing, clouding the listeners psyche with fiery atmosphere (without dipping into post-rock) are quite impressive. And then they'll break into barrage of chugging chords with a  hypnotic sway which is always satisfying. There's only one moment of technical indulgence on the final track right near the end: a short flurry of sweeps serving to heighten the final moments of the album and it manages to fit well without becoming masturbatory.

The bass duties of Mike do sometimes feel smothered by the loudness of everyone else here but on some tracks it's far easier to pick up on (for example on "The Fire Sculptures"), and other times it spikes up at key moments helping to anchor the heaviness of the guitars with a satisfying and smooth rumble. He follows the guitars elegantly without any trouble, pulling the thick riffs out of his amp with just as much fervor to batter your headphones to shit. Chris M. unleashes a ridiculous battering of percussion on every front of Burn. It doesn't rise too far above the other instruments in the mix so it never feels like it buries these elements, but his work is far from going unheard as each thunderous strike of a kick, tom or cymbal quakes and pounds deeply throughout each song.

It's a constant aggressive attack, especially on tracks like "Feast", "Warmer Months", "Little Seeds" and "The Fire Sculptures" where the force of their guitar work is oppressive enough to match James' roars. The only real break from this molten assault being the brief acoustic interlude "Corrupt", the clean section in "Vitiate", and then a slow acoustic, ritual build in the beginning of "Telepaths" — a track which could arguably contain some blackened noise influence no doubt due to input from both Bryan of Gates coupled with the legendary Tyler Semrick-Palmater (one of three brilliant guys behind the revered sludge band Mare); this combination of talents is phenomenal.

In fact the group work on "Telepaths" makes for one of the more interesting and engaging tracks on Burn. Beginning with the cycling hums as a faint sustained "aun" whirls behind acoustic strums and slow tribal drums for almost 3 minutes. Then the intense stillness is broken as the slow riffs erupt through while the noise reverberates behind them, and the initial deep growls of James slowly are overtaken by Tyler's signature pained wails (he does a great job, bringing a cold, haunting power into this track); guitars picking up pace beneath. It breaks with sudden cymbal crashes before slamming into a blackened fury with both vocalist bellowing, and a subtle churning dissonance that boils below. One final break as things come to a grinding, noisy halt and in comes Bryan from Gates who uses his skills wonderfully once again.

Outside of those points be ready to brace yourself for continuous volleys of well honed sludge riffage. Even in slower, shorter tracks like "Indulgence" with it's trembling distortion intertwined with plodding slams or "Vitiate" with its sad, mountainous force the echoing melody is kept massive.

A highly recommended surge of atmospheric and sludgy hardcore I suggest you all ingest this year. All of what Titan has been crafting up to this point is crystallized on Burn with blazing fury and it is tremendous — showing that they are quite deserving in calling their group Titan.The addition of several other extremely talented musicians from the Toronto area is just icing on the cake. There is room to grow from here and I'm interested to hear what they produce in the future. I also can't wait to see them again this weekend.

Here's the deal: as of June 22nd you will be able to download this for free (with the option to donate what you please) from the Hypaethral Records bandcamp page linked below. I've been asked to keep all other links off this review and I will honor that request. You can hear it streaming over here in the meantime.

Eventually you'll be able to pick this up in hard copy from both Hypaethral Records in North America and through React With Protest in Europe. Check Titan's official website for updates on this and their immanent European tour.

DOWNLOAD (Bandcamp) June 22nd
STREAM (Exclaim)

Seven Sisters of Sleep - Seven Sisters of Sleep (2012)

EP, A389 Records /  Southern Lord
May 26th, 2012

Genre: Sludge
Region: USA

Ah Seven Sisters of Sleep. I'm always eager to hear what these dudes have mustered up. Their self-titled record is massive and their split with Child of God was no different in that regard. This, their newest EP, continues to bring their brand of sludge to new depths of heavy.

They present 6 tracks on this record, the latter 3 of which are taken from their recent split with Child of God which was fantastic. So lets talk about the new ones: there's "Sundown", "High Priest", and "Slower Downer". As is to be expected the vocals are wonderfully vicious, blaring atop the storm of fuzzy riffs and chaotic drums. Another entry dripping with hellish atmosphere while being very simple in structure and sound.

"Sundown" starts with screeches of feedback followed by an avalanche of diving riffs and thick bass licks, but quickly descends into a blackened fervor midway through before returning to the aforementioned crawl. "High Priest" is slightly longer, crushing waves lapping turbulent shores of doom only speeding up a few notches to a hardcore tone, and then into another addictive set of rhythms that start to fade in pace towards the end.

The last new track, "Slow Downer", is the longest of the new material. It breaks the silence with noisy feedback once again and falls into a dark shaft of smokey doom, as distortion lingers in the background. Things become slightly less noisy as both guitars soldier on together, with a break for one to play alone and then back into a filthy sway as the vocalist bellows angrily — only changing in the last third of the track to a growl as the kickers pummel.

The tracks from the split are as heavy as they were when originally released. With the addition of new tracks this could almost be considered a new full length, and it is some of the heavier shit they've created as it trades the more evenly split hardcore-sludge aspects for a more straight devilish sludge-doom flavor. This is escpecially evident on the new songs but even the old, especially "Green Garden of Unrest" or "Weapons" which should be blasted on 11.

Highly recommended dark wreckage right here. Definitely pick this record up by heading over to A389 Records to grab a copy of this sweet album. It's a 7" with a cd copy, poster, and a patch so for the meager price they're asking you get quite a lot for an excellent slab of sludge.

DOWNLOAD (Mediafire)
DOWNLOAD (Zippyshare)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Horse Latitudes - Awakening (2012)

Full Length, Doomentia Records
February 10th, 2012

Genre: Doom Metal
Region: Finland

I was told a few months back that this record was heavier than Pallbearer's Sorrow And Extinction, but because I had not heard it I wanted to hold off judgement. Even so I had a little difficulty suppressing a scoff of disbelief. Judge for yourself.

Having now heard this Finish doom trio I am still reluctant to say it's heavier than that aforementioned monolith of an album. Not because Awakening is a slouch in the heaviness department — to say that would be so far from the truth. The fact is this record crushes effortlessly. My point is that these two bands have completely different styles in all avenues of they approach to the doom genre. Pallbearer being more Black Sabbath oldschool and melodic while Horse Latitudes are more minimalistic, bass focused, droning and ritualistic. Both being utterly massive in their own right.

And when I say "bass heavy" I mean that literally: there is no guitar here. It's two bassists of thundering power that will weigh down upon you like a horrific rock slide. A suffocating line of slow, grumbling riffs that would crack mountains if played loud enough. Both of them, while definitely low and fuzzy, are very clean and smooth. Plucked with a deliberate, torturous pace and strength as the ceremonial, rhythmic drumming crawls and strikes thunderous blows in every moment.

The moans and drones from the clean vocals sink you further into a ritualistic ether — this combination of sounds will put you into a meditative state as if you were transported to a temple high upon a dark and misty mountain range. Sometimes the vocals will become sung with more melody or get a crusty edge injected into them but for the most part they remain in a chanting clarity.

Awakening's material hovers around the 8 minute mark and rarely break its pacing. Only on "Decline of the Ages"  does it break from it's gigantic gait for several minutes near the finish line, and it does not feel out of place. It only heightens the titanic majesty in my opinion. In all other moments it is a roaring, shuddering beast to listen to.

Each droning song heaves boulders of doom towards you. The title "Awakening" seems entirely appropriate once you pass the intro as this really does evoke the image of an ancient lumbering creature having just awoken from the tribal meditations of a powerful, archaic cult. It could be criticized for being monotonous or lacking much depth if you had to lay some issues down but there is beauty of the simplistic heaviness heard here.

While I personally prefer Pallbearer's recent album more, this is a doom record that holds its own and is certainly recommended. A towering monster in all aspects. If you like shit such as Monarch!, Atriarch, Bell Witch, etc. than you'll want to check this out. You can stream it in full on their bandcamp page or if you want a hard copy go to Doomentia Records and snap it up on vinyl.

DOWNLOAD (Mediafire)
DOWNLOAD (Zippyshare)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Blood Revolt - Indoctrine (2010)

Full Length, Profound Lore Records
July 19th, 2010

Genre: Black/Death Metal
Region: Canada

This is one for the ages in voyages into untold darkness and violence of bestial war metal. The talents swirling within this release are such that one should not ignore what this release has to offer. This is another example of Canada demolishing the competition.

Composed of a triad of fantastic and seasoned members, Blood Revolt tear through every boundary of extremity in black and death metal with their first and only release (thus far) titled Indoctrine. From the legendary Primordial: A.A. Nemtheanga brings his jarring and pained vocals to grate on this release, while the inhumane, squall-like drumming of James Read (of Axis of Advance, Revenge, Conqueror, and Kerasphorus) batters and bludgeons with untold ferocity and technicality, and finally the sharpened axe of Chris Ross (Axis of Advance, Revenge, and Weapon) shreds and obliterates in true terror all the conventions known to the genre.

Who would ignore this release? I am ashamed of myself for not knowing about it when it initially appeared.

Indoctrine is a lesson for every metal fan and musician. Without traipsing down the path of dissonant Portal or Gorguts worship this record twists the traditional death metal formula into something so grotesque, so abhorrent that it's a wonder how they have gone unnoticed up to this point: especially those who claim death metal is dying (despite the slew of other excellent releases that also prove otherwise). While the tone is certainly warlike this is no clone of the genre, it in fact escapes that categorization with ease through it's unique sound, superb writing, and whirlwind pacing.

Nemtheanga's vocals have received criticism on this record due to their unorthodox clean, howling, wavering style from purists of the style — what a fucking surprise. Disregard them. His style fits the atmosphere of this record perfectly: tortured and amorous with a true feeling of ferocious urgency. The lyrics are violent and hold no punches. According to the band's statement Indoctrine "... follows the first person narrative of a man who comes to the realization that he lives outside of the system as an animal, a law unto himself. To his salvation through striking at the system, severing its artery, wringing its neck in the only self-expression left to those with no choice in this world. In over the course of eight acts, you will witness his descent into madness, salvation at the barrel of a gun, dehumanisation and ultimately his redemption in destroying himself."

From reading them they espouse war and the power of man against God and all natural forces, alienation, the consequence of raw power and mortal desperation, betrayal, martyrdom, the detailed expression of the filth of battle, the transfiguration of will into a life-ending grasp on the system, the smell of burning cities, metal and sulfur.

This really comes through in all the songs displayed here, but especially the title track, "The Martyrs Brigade", "God's Executioner, Praise Be", "Salvation at the Barrel of a Gun", and "My Name In Blood Across The Sky." I assume if you like Primordial then the vocals won't be a hurdle. Even if you don't, this is metal we're talking about — bending the norms to create something brutal, cacophonous and extreme is what the genre is about.

Between these howls of agony there is the rare but very appropriate and mood setting samples, sometimes spoken passages that are distorted and laced in static. Indoctrine opens with a very ominous one indeed: on "Salvation at the Barrel of a Gun" heavy, haggard breathing is heard, a quick heart beat with one line "make my aim true and my hand steady" followed by successive gunshots before you're thrust into the chaos. It crushes from this point onward with a hateful lust.

Beyond this is the truly magnificient drumming and riffing. Read is a legend. His skills are practically untouchable: his speed and technical finesse are blinding, raw and capture the urgency of the rush of battle. The production arguably hampers them but again in this genre all things are dirty so suck it up. Read will pound your bones to a fine paste before the end without any question.

Ross clearly knows how to craft memorable, filthy, venomous guitar rhythms and leads that cut through to your soul. They lash at your ears with barbarous malice. The tone is condensed and without the plastic feeling so common in "brutal" metal today. Despite being sour every moment of Ross' work on the guitar becomes spellbinding, truly gripping. His riffs will stay with you after this record has finished spinning. Indoctrine has finished its assault. You could take any track on this album as an example of this, but just take a glimpse of "The Martyrs Brigade":

The riffs are chunky and hypnotic, churning with a searing hatred, shifting from gritty tremolo thrashes to thick and energetic sliding powerchords to quick alternate picked slices and gallops. When a solo does appear it is anything but filler: it is almost melodic but so simple that there is no pretension to be heard. The slower moments twist with pain in an ugly groove. Again, the only slow-ish track on the record is My Name In Blood Across The Sky which has a very subtle touch of doom to it midway through (like Antediluvian's Under Wing of Asael), and even it strays into the sheer abrasive speed of the others; especially in terms of Read's drum work.

For all fans of death metal or black metal looking for the ultimate in writhing horror. Especially if you're a fan of Axis of Advance, Rites of thy Degringolade and Revenge you would be doing yourself a disservice to not begin spinning this album immediately. A highly recommended gem of the genre that I have not done justice to here. Profound Lore still have copies available, or if you're in Europe you can find this at Invictus Productions' store as well. Buy it now.

DOWNLOAD (Mediafire)
DOWNLOAD (Zippyshare)

Timber Timbre - Creep On Creepin' On (2011)

Full Length, Arts & Crafts Productions
April 5th, 2011

Genre: Folk/Alt-Country/Gothic Americana
Region: Canada

A huge thanks to JGD, or I guess his girl, over at The Living Doorway for both staying on top of death metal for me (along with Haxan at Forever Cursed, since Equivoke is sorely lacking growls and brutalness), and for bringing this odd ball album to my attention. These guys apparently evaded my radar last year and I find myself once again disappointed that I wasn't aware of such an interesting band, especially considering they're Canadian.

Unlike JGD who's honest with himself and his readers, I'm going to pretend I know what I'm talking about when reviewing this quirky amalgamation of genres and sounds like I'm a seasoned folk enthusiast, even though it's something I'm not familiar with — and this is a record far from the norm in general.

This is Timber Timbre's third full album. I have not heard the self-titled or Medicinals yet so I cannot compare it to those in terms of growth in sound and whatnot, but boy is Creep On Creepin' On a strange animal. Challenging and dark is also how it could be described. It is largely calm bluesy folk but very very warped. There's a lot of instruments involved in the 10 compositions on display here: piano, harpsichord, violin, organ, various saxophones, clarinet, accordian, lap steel, several different guitars, and various percussive instruments. You'd think this would turn into a clusterfuck or become pretentious and tiring but it all comes together very organically. Every instrument playing an integral part in the different sounds and the general atmosphere each song brings forward; often used subtly.

Outside of the clinking piano keys and deep bass plucks it's the vocals by Taylor Kirk that are an immediate focal point — once again warped, very slightly distorted, and laced in echos with an old-timey glaze smothered over them. Almost like they're just slightly underwater. They are impossible to ignore and may be the tipping point when deciding whether or not one likes this record for many as they waver and croon over the slow, drowsy sounds beneath them. Certainly not accessible but I find them to pretty damn hypnotic. The lyrics that are attached to his singing (as well as Mika's) are subtly macabre and obsessive, gloomy.

With many of the tracks such as "Lonesome Hunter", 'Creep On Creepin' On", 'Woman", "Black Water", and "Bad Ritual" I feel like I'm listening to something one might hear at a depressing and creepy 1950's or '60's prom or wedding waltz, or something coming from the radio of a run-down and haunted 1956 Chevy Bel Air. That's actually a pretty accurate description of the general atmosphere of this record. "Black Water" and "Lonesome Hunter" are my favorites for sure. They're so spellbinding, depressive, dark and dreary.

Others such as "Too Old To Die Young" and "Do I Have Power" are a little more upbeat (for the most part), bouncy in their tone and pacing. The instrumentals "Obelisk", "Swamp Magic "and "Souvenir"s vary in their style while still being gloomy: "Obelisk" with its jarring violins and abruptness reminds me of Tim Burton's Beetlejuice, while "Swamp Magic" has a southern edge to it, a little more ambient and creepy, and "Souvenirs" closes the album with more of a droning violin/horn quality.

I would definitely recommend this one for the adventurous. I'm slowly falling in love with it. It's a very unique and strange journey no question. Grab this odd piece of brilliance from their label's store (available in various formats) or check out your local record shop, since that's where I found my copy.

DOWNLOAD (Mediafire)
DOWNLOAD (Zippyshare)

Titan - Colossus (2009)

EP, Hypaethral Records / Feast or Famine
November 13th, 2009

Genre: Sludge/Hardcore
Region: Canada

Titan have a new album coming out in the next few weeks and are embarking on a long tour, and it was actually fellow poster and friend Inresurrection who tipped me off to these guys a few years back. Since then I've seen them live (and will again next week) as well as spun this record a few times, so I decided I should get this, their 2009 EP, up here before the new record drops.

A very heavy Canadian band that have been known to cause blackouts during live performances here in Toronto, they meld atmospheric sludge and hardcore over their small collection of splits and EPs that have helped them mold their sound into a loud and very heavy interpretation of sludge. Colossus contains 5 tracks that are sure to interest and flatten any fan of the genre.

Behemoth dirges and melodic stains are all encompassing here with jagged hardcore undertones to shake things up further. A large portion of the tracks here contain thundering drums, kicking endlessly, while the guitar duties are sharp and vicious. When they're fast the riffs cut perfectly between traditional hardcore thrashing and more othrodox sludge sounds but with a draping of melody, and when they crawl to a snail's pace as they do in the opener and "Next Winter" it becomes tragic and crushing; possibly resembling Reka if I had to compare. The atmosphere of despair is quite clear in these moments, yet it never slinks into post-metal territory. On tracks like "The Standard" there is even a sprinkling of dissonance when the mammoth riffing crumbles down upon you.

Moments of stillness do appear as the intro to the first track shows, shaking quietly before an explosion of power wipes them away in anger. On the final track "His Eminence" (which does not appear on the vinyl version, but on their split with June Paik) this kind of soft section is accompanied by minimal pianos as well. The bass is there as well, occasionally spiking above the other members in a clean but strong tone serving the heaviness well.

Screeching, crackling and filthy vocals from a man who also does guitar duties for the enigmatic group Gates serve as the voice of this act, and he does his duties damn well. When the screaming is not present there are deep, monstrous growls that shake the ground to replace them. It's quite a contrast both on record and live compared to his position in Gates which is mute and silent; here we feel the energy in a different way, showing some great diversity in his talents.

Altogether it's a very solid release, satisfying, well structured and paced with songs that are passionate. A band that definitely deserves support. If you like what you hear than go see them live on their upcoming European tour and pick up a vinyl copy of this and their new record, or you can go to bandcamp and listen to this or download it. Also check out their official site for all news and other merch.

DOWNLOAD (Mediafire)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Brainoil - Death of This Dry Season (2011)

Full Length, Life Is Abuse / 20 Buck Spin
August 2nd, 2011

Genre: Sludge
Region: USA

One I missed last year. Shame on me.

Yes I am late to the party when it comes to these legends of sludge. They had an enormous gap between their self-titled album and Death of This Dry Season but like true professionals that has not diminished the quality of the music one iota once they returned. What you get here is pure, unadulterated sludge metal: no bullshit and no fancy experimentation. Death of This Dry Season is a short but slamming venture into crusty, raw and harsh sludge with a southern-stoner tinge all the way through.

The bass and guitar riffs alternate between heavy and chunky, fuzzed out and crushing sections that are so damn catchy, using some hammer-ons and bends on a few tracks to great effect. These moments stick with you and will break windows when cranking the volume no problem. Then they slide towards fast-paced, aggressive hardcore blasts while remaining entirely rusted and rough, coupled with a ugly hoarse vocal effort belting out tales of ruin and decay. This is totally appropriate for the sound they conjure, as is the thick production which keeps the murky swells feeling warm and cozy. Drum duties are carried out flawlessly, bouncing and crashing while fitting both the quick licks and the sluggish, bendy chords without dominating them.

You couldn't ask for more from Brainoil here.Their sound and style remain untouched by the waves of newer acts that experiment with the traditional sludge and doom sound, making their material work effortlessly and remain fresh without bending to recent trends. As mentioned it's a quick record hitting just under 25 minutes but it's all top notch, and I would much prefer a solid and heavy short release then a long and tedious one; especially if it's in the more orthodox vein of the genre.

I would certainly recommend grabbing this record, it's worth your time and cash. Take a listen over here. I snatched it up not too long ago. You can buy it on vinyl over at 20 Buck Spin or from their very own merch store.

DOWNLOAD (Zippyshare)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Aseethe - Reverent Burden (2011)

Full Length, Gilead Media / Floating Cave
August, 2011

Genre: Doom Metal
Region: USA

Saw these dudes at the Gilead Media fest and they were pretty damn good. I believe they played this album in full and it was fuckin' brutal so why not share it right?

Aseethe are a fairly new three piece act fashioning some droning doom metal on various splits since 2008, and Reverent Burden is their first full length record. Its a modest outing of 2 songs between ten and fifteen minutes each. These guys have got a great sound that burns slowly. Both tracks incorporate pieces of drone and ambience with the doom dirges which makes for some menacing atmosphere.

"Reverent" is the first side of the album and it begins with a very deliberate crawl, creaking strings and fading symbols roll onward and swell for a good four minutes before we get to the meat of the track. The riffs and chords here have a dissonant quality.  It's heavy no doubt, the yawning guitars build at a snails pace as the dissonance is traded for mountainous powerchords with drowned out and hoarse vocals bellowing under them. Aseethe use a very simple structure here to pound you into the mud. A cycling howl of noise begins to slowly envelop the instruments by the end of this first track, and this continues as riffs shift to loud feedback in the final 3 minutes.

"Burden" follows on the next side, slightly shorter. It does not lead with a noisy intro but instead crushes you immediately with titanic riffs until you begin to hear that drone build up again behind just as the vocals come in. That ominous noise is always there and becomes more noticeable when the riff grinds much lower, straining and bending like a beast pulling at its chains — "Burden" is an appropriate title. It continues like this for a little while before some shift occurs but the pace stays the same: a leaden gait that sears into your mind. It returns the previous riff but sped up only slightly as if that beast has suddenly began to break its restraints, and the moaning drone gets louder right to the finish.

Do check these guys out if you like the heavy stuff like Hell. They pull off droning doom of serious quality. You can get this over at Gilead Media, Halo of Flies, Howling Mine, Robotic Empire and a few others. This is a vinyl rip just so you know.

DOWNLOAD (Mediafire)
DOWNLOAD (Zippyshare)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thou - Tyrant (2007)

Full Length, Robotic Empire / One Eye / Gilead Media
September, 2007

Genre: Sludge/Doom Metal
Region: USA

"I realize all the grim sternness of my own cold building with its wealth of breathing misery and my own desolate heart to endure it all.
 But it is the curse of greatness that it must step over dead bodies to create new life. 
 And now there is change. 
The serpent has turned its head to strike its master. 
Those suffocating under dominion have broken their chains. 
Privilege destroyed. 
Wealth ground to dust. 
Power laid to waste. 
Grinding teeth in contempt, with black swords in hand, stepping over dead bodies, and creating new life."

I had to finally get this up here. I've been listening to it everyday for the past month. I've listened to it twice today. And yeah I know it's quite late to be raving about and posting this but who cares, the album is phenomenal and part of what Equivoke's about is getting both new or old but always fantastic records out there. So excuse the masturbatory rant-review I'm about the embark on.

If you don't know Thou by now than you've been missing out big time, especially if you're a doom fan. Tyrant is a tremendous effort especially for their first LP. It is 5 songs of venomous, malicious, oppressive doom that is practically unapproachable even from veterans of the genre.

It hinges on intelligent, socio-political and religiously charged lyrics spewed fourth in Bryan's truly despicable, harsh rasps and screams that would be completely comfortable on the darkest of black metal releases. This is in stark contrast with much of the doom or sludge genre which is usually encased in low, deep moans and growls. When I first heard Tyrant it was this aspect that I didn't quite like about their style but over time they grew on me immensely and now I cannot imagine the band sounding the same without them. This is one point of the record I could see a lot of people finding fault with, in fact it may be the only one.

When it comes to the riffs, drumming and structure Tyrant is all gold and very creative. Mitch's grumbling bass is mighty and does so much for the sound to keep it thick and crunchy, while Terry's drumming is potent and aggressive but very flexible, providing a more than sturdy foundation for what Mitch and Andy lay down on guitar. From the moment you enter this record on the title track you are greeted with a formidable growl, as low and slow as can be. And while this quality sticks throughout the record their are occasions where the tempo is cranked up a little, and manages to work just as well in those instances.

The quiet moments that you'll come across are so powerful: the title track displays this perfectly when both Matt and Andy go clean it turns into a sombre and melodic interlude as Bryan's only clean, soft section emerges. The atmosphere is thick. A healthy dose of delay saturates the riffs to great effect and things slowly build to a destructive climax of fuzzed out heaviness which is also where the tempo changes — giving you a taste of their faster side; the quality doesn't dip in the slightest.

It's very clear that all members here have unified on some spiritual level and can write like no others in the genre. It all flows so effortlessly. From lumbering gigantic dragging slabs to shimmering, quiet cleans, to aggressive sludgy slams and chugging — they keep it cohesive and passionate. They even make a brief excursion into a southern bluesy twang (influenced by their Baton Rouge heritage no doubt) at the end of "With a Cold, Life Extinguishing Elegance": while Bryan maintains his cold rasping, the guitars whine and bend sadly. It's very beautiful and shows how well the members can adapt different styles and make it feel natural.

Tyrant is an album I have a hard time deciding on a favorite track as it's all so catchy, ugly and pleasing. If I had to for the moment I would settle on "I Was Ignored. And Judged. And Cast Down." as it encompasses all that I love about Thou in one track. The opening section is packed with memorable riffing, heavy and ominous, but once the track slows that is where I am overwhelmed by the sheer force these guys conjure. It comes suddenly and with enough mass to make black hole seem pitiful, the screeching and scraping of the brakes being put on as the bass slides thickly is magnificent. It might be my favorite moment on the record actually. Terry's crashing symbol work here really keeps shit nice and bright. Once Matt punches in with the slow, delay-laden taping it becomes even more jaw-dropping, melancholic, intense.

From that point Andy comes in with a great reverbed solo and they slow it down again right before the conclusion. Bryan's vitriolic spitting as he roars about the oppressed masses rising to slay opulent rulers is brings the intensity to a new high, and the interplay between both Matt and Andy here is stunning: one finishing the others' riff low and high, the riffs soar. This is such a great moment, they work so well off of each other. Then they slam back down with some monstrous slides and chugging, to finish it with a slow feedback fade.

This version includes the two bonus tracks that later appeared on their The Retaliation of the Immutable Force of Nature EP, and usually bonus tracks on albums are nothing to get excited about. This being Thou though that is entirely not the case. Specifically "Acceptance" (an instrumental) which veers into an almost post-rock area and manages to destroy most of the bands in that genre with that one track alone. It still holds some semblance of doom underneath but without the oppressive negativity of the previous tracks — in fact it's very uplifting, atmospheric and beautiful. '

There are wonderful climaxes and valleys they wind through with grace in this song, tastefully using their effects to make them count. Once again Thou show their ability to change it up and make whatever they write sound powerful, meaningful and serious.

The other track is "What Blood Still Flows Through These Veins?" which is more in the vein of the rest of Tyrant. Nice and slow with some sick riffing, creeping and heavy as glaciers with a short moment where they leap from that; as well as a section where Bryan rattles off lyrics quickly with his grating bark (almost like spoken word), while both guitars drone alone behind him. It finishes with a generous helping of feedback and scraping, slow rhythmic toms, etc.

I could not recommend this record enough. I'm in love with it and all of Thou's efforts and would suggest anyone who has even a passing interest in the genre to listen to Tyrant. The vinyl version has been sold out for a long time (I was fortunate enough to find a copy a few years back at a local record store) but you can pick up a third repress of the cd over at Gilead Media or Robotic Empire. The boys have (as always) put this up for free on their official site too, and you can listen to it on Gilead Media's bandcamp.

Oh. And if you ever have a chance to see them live, don't waste your time hesitating. Go and bask in the unbelievable talent and heaviness they lay down.

DOWNLOAD (Zippyshare)
DOWNLOAD (Mediafire)
DOWNLOAD (Noladiy) Official site