Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Svart Crown - Profane (2013)

Full Length, Listenable Records
Aprill 22nd, 2013

Genre: Black/Death Metal
Region: France

Since you're all probably pretty tired of the grind and -core I'm putting up, I'm gonna pump in some more black and death metal for a few posts. A warning though you can count on plenty more of that regardless so have fun. Speaking of: if you're waiting on the new Immolation, Ulcerate, or Inquisition then I think you're gonna want to give this a few spins as well. Might be a bit of a sleeper gem for 2013 or just something really solid. And yes I will be getting to those Abyssal albums sometime soon.

I posted Witnessing The Fall last year not long after I saw Svart Crown support Ulcerate on their first North American tour and was very impressed by both their tight performance and quick, dissonant sonic seige. This french horde has obviously been taking their writing even more seriously in the past three years, fleshing out their influences and strengthening their skills to invoke a distorted vision of dissonant blackened death metal entitled Profane that would make Immolation proud. It's a surprise and crept out of nowhere a few days back and may end up on my year end list.

Profane is a far more absorbing venture through vigorous, bendy American sounding dissonant black/death metal compared to their more tame (or less colorful maybe, while enjoyable) 2010 record. I say American because instead of feeling more creepy-chaotic like French/European acts Deathspell Omega, Hectic Patterns, Dodecahedron, etc. Svart Crown use Profane to channel the fiery, blasphemeous, and weighty sound of Immolation with a wild, open-stringed blackened discord and pacing of Inquisition. That's not to say the US doesn't have it's share of torrential death chaos (Ævangelist for instance, holy hell) but the other brand is far more recognizable obviously.

When I saw them I definitely experienced a few of the tracks on this record. After hearing Profane not only is it recognizable from that show there's a much more obvious connection to their pairing with Ulcerate outside of just general friendship. Their previous work contained elements of this yes but here it's far more developed and infused with the old Morbid Angel era influence — and it's not without their own semi-modern sour taint gracing the worship which makes it more their own.

Once again it's a pretty clean record, all the instruments breath comfortably while playing an integral and energetic part in the jagged sorcery on Profane. Loud too. Vile death roars spout cosmic heresies, standard fair but not lacking passion. Guitars are rich, dishing out merciless amounts of scratchy, blazing tremolos and gallops, spectral open dissonance, and bright bends. One channel working the artificial harmonics, chunky rhythms while the other ruptures with ghostly dissonance coupled with a never ending cannon barrage from the new drummer alongside it all, lending a heap of energy to the record. Overall the four of them definitely were working harder towards something on Profane. And from start to finish it doesn't dip in quality, the 40 or so minutes of twisted death hits just the right spot I think.

There are really only two tracks which slow things down: "Until The Last Breath" which has Inquisition inscribed in it, an intoxicated waltz for three-quarters of it's run that is pretty groovy, and "The Therapy of Flesh" which starts off like a burst dam, tearing into you with quick, technical blows before settling into a more relaxed, ominous groove. The intro being one of two instrumentals — they're not wasted on ambient samples though. The opener is a brief glimpse into the cosmic destruction you're about to walk in to, and "Venomous Ritual" is more of an interlude or prelude to the final chapter of Profane: ceremonial and adding more tribal atmosphere without reliance on woodwind instruments and the like. Everything else is a tight, molten assault quite a few leaps forward from Witnessing The Fall.

The various twists and changes in pacing while keeping with satisfying, off-kilter and jerky thoughtful writing and structuring with strong roots allows shit to continue to flow forcefully despite the ingedients being the same and not necessarily new. The arrangements and execution are gripping all over Profane and translate with exponential passion live. "In Utero: A Place of Hatred and Threat" shows off a more black metal focus for a long while, bursting into occasional frenzied gallops of death. The title track (which is streaming on bandcamp) definitely has a more old-school vibe in the opening seconds of jittery slides but the jump to nervous bends and eventually hanging chords brings it back to the bizarre. Especially that latter sustained high string section, very cold and leads to to nice bridge before the pace builds back up.

While the material is solid across the board here ("Genesis Architect" eases you in nicely) a few songs are particularly awesome. "Intern. Virus. Human" is definitely one of them and it comes early. A track that needs to be turned up without a doubt. The first few moments do not feel remarkable but once you hit like 20 seconds in wow does it become much more. By the time the song is in full swing it sounds like something taken directly off of Immolation's last record, that huge chunky, stomping hook and that breaks into an ugly thrash morphed from the opening; this whole time the erupting percussion is just burying you, just a vicious hammering from all angles. The pause a few moments later leads to some severely addicting crushing bends that make a return before the end; which is great all by itself.

Then coming up on the tail end we have "Ascetic Purification" (the shortest track) and it throws you for a loop a little on the outset. To me the first thirty seconds almost sound like it's on the brink of turning into a blackened hardcore tune what with it's semi-punk pacing but the remainder of it is more merciless distorted savagery, with some tasty pinched harmonics and frantic screams right at the end. I would even say in the final quarter is a moment of brutal death metal slam barbarity amongst the already awesome lashing.

"Revelation: Down Here Stillborn" is the other one that stands out, bleeding directly from "Ascetic Purification", and it seals the album well. It's a fucking monster with a lot of memorability. A very grand haze is draped over this song, building and building, dipping from Immolation howling solos and bends and back into more melancholic grooves found in the slower tracks before it. Within the first two minutes there's a ton of crippling grooves lathered in icy harmonized twangs and it only gets heavier from there. A good and final example of their skill and creativity coming together so well, jumping back and forth in it's style just enough to not be messy and feel complex without being wanky or boring.

Profane is a surging, polished, far more solidified and interesting effort from Svart Crown combining some of the greatest elements of Inquisition and Immolation (even the earliest Ulcerate) with pretty epic energy. It surprised me a great deal honestly. It'll hook you but it's not revolutionary, just very enjoyable for those who love that malshapen sound. And I happen to fall into that category so I'm loving this a ton.

You can stream this over here, and buy it from Listenable Records in Europe, Season of Mist if you're in North America (or iTunes apparently); and I would assume eventually direct from the bands store. I highly recommend you do so and follow their updates on tours and shit on facebook as usual.

DOWNLOAD (Zippyshare)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Shit Luck - Slow Death (2013)

Demo / EP, Self-released / Independent
April 11th, 2013

Genre: Blackened Hardcore/Crust/Grindcore
Region: USA

I'm still working back through my (and others') 2012 list so those posts will get more regular between newer records, but for now another new and quick one. Florida's Shit Luck just released a pretty damn enjoyable eight minutes with this demo and I think some people here will enjoy it. I definitely am despite this subgenre becoming a little watterlogged.

Creatively this is a couple of big steps up from their 2012 release Expired which, upon checking it out, showed promise but did not hint at the fairly intriguing mash-up that we find in the five songs here. Just on a base level this is louder, grittier, far more aggressive and full sounding, tighter with a more interesting approach to the whole YAITW blackened crust style.

They're not breaking conventions but this four piece do push something refreshing to various degrees and I'm interested in where they're going to take it. You can expect lots of feedback between tracks and raspy hoarse vocals, though here the vocalist is slightly outside the mold while spitting themes of alienation, apathy, bitterness. The down-tuned ashen riffs whirling onward through thick, muffled distortion creating a pretty bleak atmosphere. On the other end the drumming is competent, pretty tight snare and keeps shit together well but the kicks are pretty weak.

However like Dephosphorus they find a comfortable and rewarding zone where grind, crust, and black metal influences break apart and reform in energetic, satisfying and very heavy ways. Definitely more on the grind side of things but the brief excursions involving larger doses crust/blackened-etc. work in both the slower closes ("Slow Death") and the galloping rhythms ("Maniputlate") and compliment the furious attack found everywhere else.

You're met with this immediately on the opener "Into The Chasm", the opening riff and percussion taking after Dephosphorus to some degree before spilling into a series of blurred, crackling hardcore rhythms. It's the title track and "Manipulate" that are the stand outs for sure though and are easily the best formulations of their sound — filth permeating the riffs and vocals and both ending with phenomenal, simple slowed sections. "Slow Death"'s first half is grind ridden assault with hints of crust, and once you cross into the second half shit gets crushing as a torturous, dark section consumes you. "Manipulate" is the second boulder of this demo though where the formula found in the title track is repeated without losing steam and with a devastating effect.

This contrasts pretty starkly with "Waste" which follows, as it is nothing but a 28 second grind wildfire that drops all other masks. And to a large degree this is the case with "Timeless Grief" but this does not make them any less interesting. That latter track has some vicious chunks in it, the interruption in the final breakdown for a frightening roar combined with feedback beats you down bluntly. Overall the filthy storm of genres here is very effective and refreshing enough to set them apart from the pack.

So yes this is a fuckin' wicked little demo cassette that is definitely worth a listen. Especially for those who are into the crusty black hardcore out there like Young And In The Way or Dephosphorus, or even Votnut, Hexis, Unsacred, etc. Shit Luck are probably ones to keep an eye on. The physical version of this is limited to 35 copies and only a few were sold online — only two are left on bandcamp so if you want to throw them $4 get on it. Otherwise it's free.

DOWNLOAD (Bandcamp)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Crawl - Mine Maille Shone Not The Light of Death (2012)

Demo / Live, Self-released /Independent
August 1st, 2012

Genre: Sludge/Doom Metal
Region: USA

Not long after I listened to Crawl's demo I purchased the cassette release that follows it titled Mine Maille Shone Not The Light of Death. As I mentioned in that previous post this Texas experiment in tortured ambient doom has found a more unique avenue to express the weight of defeat and uncaring isolation through a simple ceremonial set up of drums, bass and vocals (and here a didgeridoo), and with Mine Maile... Crawl capture this desolate expression more intensely live.

"The recordings herein serve as an interpretation of failure. They are not intended as a gift to the spiritual inner, but merely as a gateway to the tunnels of depression brought unto the underwhelmed. 

These tracks have been released onto tape in order to properly express the beaten and downtrodden aspects of aural imprisonment."

This is how the author wishes to express this records goal and perspective. The three tracks here do a good job at instilling those feelings of swirling around a frigid and dark drain, droning agony filling your consciousness. Instead of shorter dissonant doom spells, on Mine Maille... Crawl is reveling in a slow, blunt bludgeoning from the out set, swamped in rust and archaic ritual odours. However the change is a shift away from the heavily distorted machine-like pace and sound in order to find other paths to grow from.

That is not to say this element is completely gone, but this tape seems more focused elsewhere. The first blow comes in the form of "Breath of the Dying", a ten minute descent marking the start of that different approach for Crawl. This kind of sonic force does well this way if tailored properly — again it's not funeral doom but it's also not the dual bass stoner rockfall of Horse Latitudes either. Crawl desires to meddle in more chilling, martial horrors. After a quiet build that brings the anxiety up with tribal thumps, feeback announces the journey has commenced. With this track it is the closest the record sounds to anything on the first demo (track two would be a good example).

You'll get an intoxicating dose of tone all the way through the opening song from the thick humming and growling that takes heavy swings in the pitch black atmosphere. A solid and slow groove is carved out in the tolls of a girthy bass tone and enormous, hammering percussion in harmony with one another. The way the track flows gives more insight into the title. It progresses to a point of feedback resembling a flat-line and kick/snare drops, and then becomes cold with only the beat that slows drastically like a dying heart in the cold of night.

(Unmarked black cassette)
"Summon Greater Bonespirit" is a pretty substantial track despite what it might sound like. This is where the didgeridoo is utilized to surprisingly great effect, much like a siren in the middle of a either a raging fire or torrential downpour as thunder rolls ominously above. The combination works well, drawing you into Crawls hex from a different position. Those blasts oscillate occasionally as if off kilter sometimes (foreshadowing), the atmosphere only disturbed by eerie whispers in the right channel at around the four minute mark — and suddenly you're shocked from this fade by an augmented howl from the didgeridoo. Digitized, industrialized. Much more 'noise' oriented for that brief section, a very clever use of that instrument in my opinion especially for doom — blending a little death industrial in there.

By now it's easier to recognize that this heap of sludge has been experimenting more even within it's own forming niche, in "Frozen Horror" the ambient side comes out for four minutes but does not expand much. It consists of a chime or bell that has been distorted and morphed, and flexes over the course of the track sounding like something out of a horror film. The dragging samples are the final sounds on the tape.

As a live recording it sounds fucking crisp: bass and drums while pounded ferociously are not distorted or muddy, sharp cymbals, though the vocals are a little too far back. The style though may lend to being a little more buried: frenzied screaming like the angered caws of a raven fighting over a cadaver. It's a cryptic release and feels more like an interlude or teaser of what is to come than a proper or thirst-quenching record but what is hear is not replicated elsewhere too often, if at all.

If you're into the heavy and obscure there's no reason not to check this 19 minute live ritual out, it's free and crushing so I recommend you do. The changes do nothing but make the project more intriguing. Below you can get a taste of Crawl's recent pulverizing ceremony.

Also if you like what you hear you can grab a copy of the limited cassette over at Crawl's big cartel store in both regular and limited edition, and at Murder/Suicide Incidents, or a digital copy on their bandcamp page. I was informed he was going to update the store with more merch in the near future so check back if later if shit's not up. Follow on facebook for show and future release information.

DOWNLOAD (Bandcamp)

Monday, April 15, 2013

SIXBREWBANTHA / Water Torture + SIXBREWBANTHA / Agitate - Splits (2013)

Split, Nice Dreams Records / Witch Bukake Records
April 3rd, 2013

Genre: Grindcore/Powerviolence
Region: USA/Canada

Just in time for their soon-to-commence partial US tour and send-off show we have two new and quite fantastic splits involving Six Brew Bantha: one with Buffalo legends Water Torture and the other with Minneapolis's Agitate. Both are out right now and I managed to get a copy of each while at Six Brew Bantha's send off show the other day, and because they great I figured I squish them into one post to make it easier. And it just makes sense of course.

This also the second of two pairs of great grind splits with a wicked leading band, the other being the recent Suffering Mind splits with Phobia and MASSGRAVE which I'll get to soon enough in a similar style post.

First up is the split with Water Torture. Because I only recently submerged myself in the genre I'm not entirely familiar with this two piece but I have certainly heard of them for the past couple years. They're a rising powerhouse of bass/drum powerviolence and they seem to indulge in some experimentation outside of the punishing speeds, and here they employ a guitar with David Pacheco behind that end. So they end up sounding less like Thrones doing grind as they have at some points like on their self titled and the Shellfire EP but are no less capable of snapping necks with their brutality.

Six tracks to match Six Brew Bantha's five and contrast nicely with the more pure grind on that side. I went back and checked out previous records to get a taste of their sound minus the guitar as it seems to worry some people, I've heard its temporary but even so it sounds pretty fucking sweet to me. Of course it's always hard to make something sound heavier than the bass and drums combo they've molded (unless you add a second bass) but here the writing and execution are still crushing.

The first two tracks exemplify this and mesh together so closely they might as well be one track, starting off bouncy before the chaos seeps in; strained yelling underneath the grooves and blasts; both filled with a relentless hammering from all angles and very addictive. You're gonna return for a beating for sure especially for "No trophy", my favorite on this side, because that palm-muted break down is ugly combined with the hate-filled strained yells. This and "Alone Always" are the best here, with the latter consisting of literally two riffs: one blazing and then one lumbering giant which makes the blunt lyrics exponentially more weighty:


"No Trophy" eventually seaps into the relatively thrashy "Home/Sick", whipping you back and forth wrecklessly. "Black Blood" brings back the tumbling slabs in between spazz sessions which Water Torture do so well and I can imagine these would be even heavier with just the bass tearing shit down.

Their contribution sticks with the always gloriously simple formula they've strengthened up until now, and it is guaranteed to crack pavement even when returning to more punky roots like in the closer. From my limited perspective I'd say they strike a good balance on this release with their experimentation and bring some truly jaw-dropping writing here

Six Brew Bantha played a few of these at the last show and that was the first time I had heard them despite their bandcamp having their side up for download since early in the new year. There will be video of that soon. I was still digesting their full length which is something grind finds ought to check out if they haven't, and now I've gotten through their side on this 7" and can't get enough. They continue slinging creative one minute mincing sessions unlike any of their peers with one of the tightest snares I've heard, continuing a socio-political theme lyrically.

The first track "Struggle to Exist" was one of the closing songs the other night and boy is killer, there's a strong undercurrent of death metal in the middle chunk and buttressing that is blazing grind. I love the seamless blend. Other's like "Bred Into Enslavement" return to the core of there thrashing and just rip your face off before a wicked breakdown. A really groovy track and tied   a little bit of dissonance is spliced in the last third during a break downand the pummeling does not decreas

Everything here is engineered to stomp you and I would argue that goes twice as much for the drumming, the snare is just ricocheting inside your skull; unlike the original mix of Adversarial's debut the snare's pang here does not overpower shit. Listen to "Manipulated Public" or "Bred Into Enslavement" because the fills on those are pretty evil. "Opposition" is another good example. What's up front more so are the riffs and vocals, the latter filled with vitriol and unhindered bestial energy; the perfect style for the fury you hear around it.

It's hard to say which side is better. One boils shit down and bulldozes you while the other ensnares you throws you against the wall without losing grip so it'll depend on what you're in the mood for. It's a great collaboration anyway you look at it and I recommended it for sure.

The packaging on this split is pretty nice too so I suggest spending the cash to get it while you can, especially if you catch them on their tour. There was only a few pressed for the band on tour (200 in blue and clear) and even fewer for those who preordered (purple), and you can get the black press over at Nice Dreams Records. Or you can get Six Brew Bantha's side as a name-your-price download.

DOWNLOAD (Zippyshare)
DOWNLOAD (Mediafire)
DOWNLOAD (Bandcamp) Six Brew Bantha

The second of the two splits does not disappoint either, though I suspect more people were awaiting the Water Torture split. Six Brew Bantha destroy shit right out of the gate with "Outcome of Ignorance", a 34 second ripper that leads to a 4 second track and straight into the nicely dissonant "Mandatory Termination". This one is the longest of their side, they played at their kick off show and the was even more amazing, specifically the blasts beats and the transforming tremolo breakdowns near the middle. "Product of Your Environment" sounds like something Discordance Axis might have made in their earlier records; technical and discordant, ending with like a Dangers slam to cleanse you of the writhing prior to it and end their side.

Agitate are a two piece I haven't heard of until now, described as "no-frills mincing grind" withe the addition of "FUCK PORNO-GRIND!" I can go with both those statements I suppose, I can also get on board with the opening sample which is amusing.. It leads to the meat of everything of course: Agitate provide us with a glimpse storm trapped in cassette form as they completely shred the first half of their side in just over two minutes, or two of the three tracks. Occassionally I do get more oldschool punk and crust vibes mostly in the final track which slows shit down (much like Bridgeburner would), keeping it nice and lumbering for almost the entire length before stepping it up to a more crusty level.

Both contribute some nice stuff here but I'm gonna give it to Six Brew Bantha for now, they just don't cease to make memorable grind. Definitely grab the cassette if you can't wait from Nice Dreams Records or hold on and soon it'll be pressed on 7" wax by Witch Bukkake Records; or get both. The cassette is a nice green if you're into that.

DOWNLOAD (Mediafire) Full split with Agitate's side cut up for those who care.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Antediluvian - Λόγος (2013)

Full Length / Demo, Nuclear War Now! Productions

Genre: Black/Death Metal
Region: Canada

As some of you might be aware of, the Cassette rip of the limited demo (?) version of the upcoming Antediluvian record Λόγος has finally been circling the outer rungs of the web. I really wanted to hear this at the end of 2012 but only heard about it weeks after it was stealthily released. Anyway here we have it.

Pronounced "logos", a cursory Google search suggests it's ancient Greek for "I say" or "that which is said" (or possibly "reason" but I am both lazy and out of my element here), lending to the ancient biblical and cryptic tone the band has shouldered thus far even more so. The art is once again very eerie. I know that it's a little hard to believe but even in demo form (and depending on the future, even more so here) its blatantly obvious this material represents the greatest channeling of archaic global turmoil Antediluvian have achieved.

At first Λόγος seems like it is far more formless and fluid in structure than all their past recordings, and in reality their bizarre conjurations are definitely far more entangled than ever before. They once again manage to keep vigilant and cull only the best 34 minutes it seems. Riffs which are constantly mutating through copious dissonant bends and decrepit time signatures is what makes Antediluvian and their brethren so violating and captivating, and yes they continue to wallow in this filth here.

Something that also continues is the wrecking ball drumming, putting a lot of guys to shame as she coordinates with the frightening guitar work Haasiophis dredges up. "Beyond Diurnal Winds" for example, this chick is a fucking beast. The bass however is fairly lost underneath everything else, I can hear it but it needs either more growl or bounce; this was not a problem on the last few records.

The crooked paths of the songs and their unpredictability forces you to pay attention as there's so much buried in each track you have no choice, lest you get lost and write it off as poor writing (a hard sell no doubt). On the first listen as it progresses Λόγος grasps a firmer foundation, probably around "The Ash and the Stars" (which is huge and complex) you've begun to just get hold of this writhing serpent; a song which is the first time I would argue that the Portal comparisons are actually accurate. Everything before this was almost overwhelming in it's reveling in chaos, where you only get glimpses as you adjust once again to their craft.

However on successive listens, much like with earlier works, the material becomes clearer and you gain a great appreciation for the meticulous discord it's wrapped in. I almost forgot it was supposed to be a rough cut as it started sounding far crisper at this point "Homunculus Daimon-eon (Awakening)" shreds wildly in descending spirals and later opens up, stretching the 7/4 and never dropping it's pace. And if it weren't for the quick silence you'd mistake "Consumate Spellbound Synapses" for a continuation of the opener. It's ever more pungent with horror sustained wails behind this wall of hypnotizing, lopsided rhythm and hailing blasts,  both combine to level you and the weight just increases as you listen.

There's some debate over whether some of the intro vocals are pitch shifted, not that it matters much. The intros are already cavernous enough. The rest of the time Haasiophis gurgles and froths abhorrently the spells of antiquity as he obliterates his instrument in the darkest ceremonies they've crafted yet. Sometimes on tracks like "On the Tree of Life and Death" there's more hoarse screams at one or two points and I'm not sure if that's him as well (I believe they were a four piece at the time), same with the spoken passage ending the final song. That song opens with a particularly intoxicating intro before erupting into misshapen and uncontrolled masses, decaying midway through to a crawl.

Tracks like "Tower of Silence" and "Nuclear Crucifixion (Turning the Spear Inward)" are even more ugly and tumultuous, if you haven't been overwhelmed by the time you've hit the former then the latter will be all the more tasty. Definitely my picks right now along with "The Ash and the Stars". "Transept of Limbs" opens with a very angelic intro before the blasphemous avalanche breaks. Later an enthralling pinched harmonic lead is woven through the corrosive static and punishing percussion, it's unexpected and fits well.

They always know how to close with a boom and with "Death Meta" Antediluvian manage to do it again, slowing it down and returning to "Under Wing of Asael" briefly. It's another example of how twisted they make everything, the almost slow-down like whammy effect Haasiophis achieves alongside the monolithic kit work from Mars brings this one to a close and leaves a deep scar in all those who make it through.

I didn't have much time to get properly excited for this, and I was pretty surprised that they were already working on/had released a new record so soon after their last success. That made me unduly wary but even considering this I'm coming away extremely pleased with everything they're doing on this rough cut, so when the official version is out I can only imagine it'll be as good if not more relentless and savage. Certainly top ten material even as an unfinished monstrosity.

A must for fans of this genre. Antediluvian have definitely brought something more challenging in this current version of their style. Further corruption by the cassette quality along with a continued standard of great writing takes their sound to more obscure subterranean depths. The only band that competes with them on the "holy fuck" chaos level would be Impetuous Ritual in my humble opinion; I guess you could include Grave Upheaval too. You probably can't find this anywhere unless someones got it on ebay but I hear a more complete/official release is in the works over at Nuclear War Now! Productions so watch that closely. For now enjoy the cassette rip.

DOWNLOAD (Zippyshare)
DOWNLOAD (Mediafire)

Friday, April 12, 2013

ACxDC / Magnum Force / Sex Prisoner - Split (2013)

Split, To Live A Lie Records
March 19th, 2013

Genre: Grindcore/Powerviolence
Region: USA

So this might be the best thing I've heard so far this year by a long shot. It's not even close at this point and because I live under a rock it was made even more jaw dropping since, to me, it came out of nowhere. Three uncompromising grind/powerviolence bands contributing what is undeniably not only their best material thus far, but some of the most skull crushing -core packed into a ten minute slice of 10" wax that I've heard in recent memory.

I've had this on repeat every day since I discovered it, racking up a minimum of ten spins each time I place it on the turn table and it has not worn out it's appeal yet. To the point where it's gotten in the way of me checking out new records from Wormed, Defeated Sanity, Portal, Fell Voices, etc. This three way split is addictive in the most strict sense, each band dealing out barbarous, refined, and calculated assaults that will adhere themselves like a parasitic membrane to your skull.

The three pronged siege is headed up by ACxDC (aka Antichrist Demoncore) from L.A. who have been making waves unbeknownst to me with their two previous 7" EPs. Magnum Force follows them and apparently they've been working quiet hard prior to this split with multiple demos and EPs, and then we have Sex Prisoner who also have been quietly honing their shredding abilities for the past four years; both from Arizona.

Lets start with ACxDC. Wow. I need these guys and Magrudergrind to make a split. That's basically what this sounds like, that phenomenal 2009 self-titled record stripped of technicalities and boiled to three and a half minutes of purity. Fantastic catchy riffs with pacing that straddles regular hardcore and powerviolence with a truly biting tone (which the bassist shares to great effect), wretched vocals spewing some simple but effective and absolute words, and furious blasts. All this clashes with the blown-out production but I've become so accustom to it that it doesn't put a damper on shit; when I crank moments like the gallop in "Crux" it makes no difference. It's a series of severe and assiduous 30-50 second soil-scorchings, controlled chaos that is phenomenally catchy and gritty.

The chunk ACxDC have cut out of their repertoire and put on display here will linger with you. Every song has a spell-binding groove, it's embarrassing how good some of these are. The entirety of "Loathe" for example: the cacophonous blast opening, the bass solo, then the groove slightly altered comes staying just long enough. Right off the bat "Eye In The Sky" (a song revolving around the events of the truly awesome movie Casino) is like a savage beating, and then it grinds to a halt reminding me so much of Magrudergrind before spiraling into another excellent rhythm. "Crux" will catch everyone's attention if the opener didn't — that climax, lyrics and all, will hypnotize you with its inescapable heaviness:

"Savage Christians
Men of god
On a crusade
Swallowed by fog
Convert the world
By the almighty sword
Destroy all life
In the name of the lord
Live or die
You're still just a fucking pawn"

Original? Hell no, but within the context of the song holy shit is it great. I couldn't pick a favorite track as even now having heard their previous stuff, this steps up so much higher, but "Crux" (best lyrics) and "Worthless" I return to immediately upon finishing their portion of the record. The slams and rhythms here speak for themselves, burst-firing sonic contempt from every single second. You can buy their section of the split for a buck on bandcamp.

Magnum Force seem to have been at it for a while now but this is my first encounter, and the impression they left was nothing but pleasing. Whats fairly unique about the subject matter lyrically here is it's focused on gay rights, or more accurately the struggle and bullshit homosexuals have to go through. Clearly Magnum Force are passionate and sincere about this, the simple lyrics get right to the point and are obviously both personal and relateable for those who've gone through it. From "Boxed In":

"Why do you hate me?
Is it because of my sexual preference?
I refuse to change just to feel accepted.
I'll never go back in the closet.
It's been the death of me for far too long."

Simple and says it all, and it has a wicked slowdown at the end; driving you into the bloodied ground with a sledgehammer after a ruthless 30 second thrashing. Maybe this is just another indicator of my obliviousness but for all that the -core scene focuses on in terms of a humanitarian-progressivist bent the issue of gays and their plight is one I do not see that often come up in lyrical form. Again maybe there's a shit ton of bands who write about it and I'm very clueless, either way it's a bit refreshing.

None of that matters too much anyway if the music is horrid but thankfully Magnum Force drop three columns of slightly dissonant grind that form a single and secondary pillar of excellence structuring this split. While their contribution is smaller the quality remains, the production a bit dirtier than both their colleagues. Anguished screams permeate the tracks, driving home the anger within the words. Slower by a light incriment in some senses in terms of rhythms, however the blasting on the kit here may exceed either other group here (just listen to "Out of Time"). Their section provides a very slight breather from the two sandblasting sessions that box Magnum force in, powerful and no less groovy but a notch quieter in comparison.

And now we come to my favorite segment of this 10": Sex Prisoner. These guys look to be an unstoppable force in powerviolence. Just between their self-titled 7" and this you can hear enormous growth and a tightening out their style, applying it sickeningly well in the five songs they offered up here. Sex Prisoner are a little more than powerviolence and that is immediately clear. Obviously influenced by the old guard of Infest/Charles Bronson/SPAZZ they're also incorporating the best elements of the whole Entombed-chainsaw-crustcore sound, speeding that shit up while cut out all the horseshit in favor of pure, distilled quality.

They pack each song so full of excellence and yet I still feel my thirst unquenched no matter how many times I return, the battering is so brutal and I return again and again. Bathed in feedback, they're all equally absurdly catchy and brief but the shortest song on the whole split ("Crossfaded") is the one I'm captivated by. It's 20 seconds but it feels so fucking complete and definitive.

"Need release from the grind
Day to day, 9 to 5
Working class
Gotta cope
Cross faded"

The lyrics swing perfectly to the rhythm of those pulverizing riffs and blasts. What makes the words even more of a focus for me is that everyone in Sex Prisoner seems to contribute vocally while they still have one dedicated vocalist. So the mix in styles/inflections/tones is refreshing and certain words (like "gotta cope" or in the final track on "no sympathy") punctuate the noise, causing my attention to tighten a little more. I like the variety regardless of it all being coarse yelling, there's more life when I literally hear cracks and the spittle flying from their mouths as the roar about deception and frustration.

There's a particularly obliterating breakdown midway through "Whatever You Say" that is a neck snapper. Speaking of that there are a few moments where it's like if Hatebreed wasn't so loathefully 'bro-core" and faux-tough guy and didn't begin to stagnate by their second release; moments like in "I'm Proud of You" during the breakdown under "...SCORCHED TO A DUST - TRAPPED IN THE PAST...". They do it far better and do not linger, without the phony posturing. Actually their 7" is far similar to that direction than the rest of the split, more simple and bouncy.

And yeah if you're wondering I do enjoy some of Hatebreed's material. Kvlt cred = -500, 000 and falling.

I only want these three bands to make splits together from now on. I'm pretty sure you're out of luck if you want to own a physical copy of this at this point, though its entirely possibly that due to demand a second pressing will be announced at some point. Check out To Live A Lie Records for any information on that, go to their bandcamps, and if you're lucky check your favorite record distro to see if they have one of the 600 copies pressed; you can get it on iTunes and Amazon if you're desperate.

Either way there is absolutely no reason a fan of fast and heavy shit should pass on this. I'm gonna be a douche and say this is closing in on potentially "essential" much like the Adversarial/Antediluvian split last year. And similarly it may end up at the very top of my year end list.

DOWNLOAD (Zippyshare)
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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Old Soul - Tidal Lock (2013)

Full Length, IFB / Dog Knights Productions / Dingleberry Records / Listen to Aylin
April, 2013

Genre: Blackened Hardcore/Post-Rock/Post-Hardcore
Region: USA

Coming off of that recent post about Old Soul's 2012 record, I've been given the pleasure of hearing and reviewing the new Old Soul record a few weeks prior to official release and all that. Took a little longer to write up due to other priorities getting in the way but here it is. There's no download link right now, however like their prior releases this will have a physical release and be made a free download to the public at some point soon. So hold on for now if you're eager.

Tidal Lock sees Old Soul further shaping their sound and progressing quite a bit from their previous record, while bringing back some elements that were stronger in their debut Natures Arms Encircle All; mainly the tranquil post-rock atmospherics which grasp this release firmly and made a bigger appearance in that record. Lots of reverb and delay among other effects in those long passages sometimes like near the close of the opener "Ghost/Incomplete" they're sustained and take on a shamanistic luster as notes are carefully placed around the whirring loops. Outside of these glimmering passages the scratchy swollen tone of the guitar is a big contrast once again carrying over from their sophomore, varied drumming keeping up with the wide swings in style, and a great bass presence especially when those quiet stretches start to ramp up ("Watermouth/Mirage").
All four tracks here (which flow as one long song in reality) reach between eight and ten minutes in length, a huge contrast to the four and six minute jaunts in Who Are Willing To Draw Close and further proof of a commitment to change at least in structure on first observation. The production is smooth, clear, warm; feeling much bulkier than Who Are Willing To Draw Close and lending a little juice to the all it's qualities. Only complaint here is for instance in the secong track around six minutes in, where there's a transition from quiet to loud the guitars feel a little dampened initially; this could just be me as I only notice it in that spot. Lyrically as one would expect this record does have a temporal focus, metaphoric, taking a reflective or introspective approach but largely up for individual interpretation; sometimes these are spoken ("Ethereal/Faultless") while usually in all other moments the blackened rasps dominate.

When listening the blackened post-hardcore/screamo characteristics still reside in their formula but are less bursts and more Krallice-esque in execution: long blazing passages blurring post-hardcore June Paik aggression with uneasy/anxious black metal melodies interspersed conservatively. Between these lies moments that resemble traditional screamo like Mahria but the twinkling nostalgia doesn't last long. You can hear this from the outset. These are enclosed in the vibrant ambient and post-rock drifting, both clean and acoustic, sometimes minimalistic but usually energetic builds. These moments have Tidal Lock coming very close to the eclectic style of Irepress even moreso than I thought, and yet every time they do rub up close they make a drastic shift, usually launching the song into an aggressive fit.

While they effortlessly float between each other each of the four tracks. "Ghost/Incomplete" and "Watermouth/Mirage", while separated, flow as one track linked by a gleaming clean section and provide a great example of the above. Broken up by flurries of proggy black metal mixed with screamo but far less densely packed than in their previous records. The former track is evenly broken up between their black skramz attack and meditative   while the latter dabbles more in Irepress-esque quietus with only brief, more laid back post-hardcore blinks; rhythms more restrained but still strong, leading the track out of the haze nicely.

"Paradigm/Pendulum" picks up and quickly descends into progressive black metal territory only to melt into a pretty clean section which gets increasingly proggy and loud and busy before diving into a tranquility. For the first four or so minutes I would swear this is a less complex Irepress track. The build on this track has both channels evolving sounds gradually. The return to distortion is very stealthy only occuring near the end and giving way to a wobbly ethereal section.

Interestingly enough this leads into the aptly titled final track "Ethereal/Faultless" — arguably the slowest on the record Old Soul close with a more depressive or reflective tone, even when they embrace the distortion it's very mournful. The screams come back in full force by around the eight minute mark and while still less chaotic the blackened brew here opening up to a spoken word passage with some nice bass work and percussion which fades, leaving only the words.

Old Soul's newest record is more grand and less dirty than previous material, a relatively refined and different experience from them. I think I like Who Are Willing To Draw Close a bit more at this point mainly due to the length and blend of sounds. I'm definitely finding on repeat listens I'm enjoying Tidal Lock more than I originally did, it's only the shift of emphasis away from more chaotic blackened aggression that I enjoy more on the former. For instance the closing riffs and rhythms on "Crater" (and it's atmosphere in the close) or the explosive climaxes after silence in "Forest" which ascend impressively. For whatever reason those moments trigger a more visceral nostalgia-tinged satisfaction within me.

Having said that I am enjoying what these guys have done with their sound since then and their continued willingness to break from comfort. It's something to commend. I recommend those of you who like their blackened post-whatever-core to be a little more exploratory, perhaps those of you who enjoy June Paik, Irepress, and Tesa should get into Tidal Lock.

This will soon be released by IFB, Dog Knights Productions, Dingleberry Records, or Listen to Aylin Records in the very near future and will most likely be available in distros and labels like Halo of Flies and Scream//Writhe. Follow their blog and facebook for more info on that. Eventually a link will be posted too but for now you may stream it on Dog Knights Productions' bandcamp: