Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Antediluvian - Septentrional Theophany (2013)

EP, Nuclear War Now! Productions
May 14th, 2013

Genre: Black/Death Metal
Region: Canada

A booster EP recorded during the λόγος sessions, Septentrional Theophany is another rapturous astral upheaval from this now infamous Canadian group. It's been well established I'm a big fan of these guys and their related hordes so any new material will have me interested. I think the only one I haven't got to yet was their Cogitating Vacuous split with Temple Nightside. For shame I know.

Yes this is a 7" that was packaged with the 80 page, heavy duty Haruspex Zine #1 (written by Jason Campbell, art and layout of Tim Grieco, in association with the label) which appeared recently along with the vinyl press of their last LP. The magazine itself is pretty fuckin beautiful in packaging and art, not to mention the content/depth of interviews and artist discussions (Denis Forkas, Tim Grieco, Marko Marov, and Manuel Tinnemans). It includes a lot of words with the Nuclear War Now! Productions cult such as: 
Ares Kingdom
Rotting Christ (Interviews with Sakis Tolis, Jim Mutilator, and Magus Vampyr Daoloth)
Bone Awl (Interview featuring HWCT and HWGT)
Bestial Raids
The interviews with Conqueror and Bone Awl are particularly interesting however there's generally some nice insights drawn out from diehard members and contributors of the community, with wicked presentation. If you're into digging deep with the bands above then definitely jump on this one. The record is streaming on bandcamp.

(Bone Awl interview)
Two new tracks with lyrics also by Jason Campbell. Something noticeable is that the clarity of this EP is higher even compared to λόγος (at least the tape version, the vinyl/cd press is clearer). It's nowhere near as muddy as TTCOH or the material prior to that which I can see being a problem for a lot of people. Maybe taking a little away from the drumming and grit but Antediluvian are inherently ugly, scratched, and weathered. This EP does retain those characteristics, and the destruction sealed within each moment of the two tracks here is still of great creative quality, and primal with the strong current of mystic cosmology.

So the chaos is still rearing it's malignant head throughout what you'll hear here. Darkly empyrean and profanely exploring ancient (Greek/Christian) theism/deism much like λόγος did but focused on a specific location or region. "North" is referred to several times, Phosphoros (morning star) and awaiting the its appearance, being guided by the destoyer's vision (Abandon),  and the title references a boreal theistic awakening or worship if I'm not mistaken,

Also I don't know if there's much intended significance but stringing together the sequence of writing and tracks gets you "Being in the opus of sacrifice at the mount of the congregation... in the sides of the North". There's obviously more meaning there coupled with the lyrical content regarding astral rebirth and journey, ritual significance of the aurora borealis and morning star (perhaps), etc.

Getting to the tracks themselves more closely. "Mount of the Congregation..." begins in a strikingly ordinary (relative yes) or orthodox manner after a brief sample, maybe returning to their Serpents Malignancy days but chunkier. The drumming remains steady and integral, complex however. Slow rocking powerchords and then just the tom pounding, then the full force of their depravity is unleashed.

Later this opening riff snakes it's way in much faster, transforming several times and in the midst of one of these horrid screams can be heard, on a higher register than the abyssal gurgled hymns that poison the surroundings. The rapidity of their direction changes and pacing reminds me of their Revelations in Excrement EP: progressively more chaotic and complex, before cutting off at the height of intensity.

(Ares Kingdom)
Then there's "...In the Sides of the North", a jarring spiral of archaic violence right from the beginning, the sour tremolo riffs slowly wrapping around you, the hasty sledgehammering from the percussive end slowing inky for measured tom hits between riffs. It's from the one minute mark where things start to get disorienting as the pace is picked up, particularly awesome riffs one after another. This is a song where they pull some more experimentation beyond their usual barbarous lashing, tactfully approaching something a more bleak or horror driven once the chaos subsides slightly.

Amid the howling bent and sustained notes and the tortured screams a thick atmosphere wells up at this point, the drumming becomes more tribal, steady, supporting the descent of the scraping rhythm behind it. It's a cosmic drowning that lingers only for so long, the return to bestial warfare is explosive for the final minute, shriveling like a closing portal.

Get this if you so desire, and I would guess many people desire more Antediluvian material. I wouldn't say it's essential but all of Antediluvian's releases are a treat for any fan of the ancient and filthy ceremonies they indulge in. You know I'll recommend it.

Available at Nuclear War Now! Productions with the first issue of their Haruspex Zine.

DOWNLOAD (Zippyshare)
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Monday, May 27, 2013

Haapoja - Haapoja (2013)

Full Length, Self-released / Indepenedent
March 27th, 2013

Genre: Black Metal/Hardcore
Region: Finland

Well this is an interesting transformation. Haapoja had a demo back in 20111 titled Hallitsematonta voimaa that I heard on The Living Doorway back when that dude JGD posted semi-frequently, the sounds emanating from it were stealthily riding the wave of blackened hardcore that was in full force. Except they weren't really "blackened hardcore" ala YAITW et al even on a first pass, instead like Dephosphorus the fluidity of the influences was such that it escaped complete pigeon holing. I liked it a lot and I like this even more.

So for those who don't remember Haapoja are a fairly young four piece from Finland that are play some kind of hardcore. This self-titled doesn't sound quite like the demo — the change is fairly noticable and entirely awesome. The direction is the same one they took in the EP largely, it's just the force behind it that's been supercharged.

Haapoja is just under a half hour so it seems they've sheared their best material in the interim between 2011 and 2013, coming out with nine diverse and equally engrossing, twisty songs. The grooves you heard in between the Rorschach chaos and blackened angularity is overclocked, in this record, speed and intensity is cranked the majority of the record as well. At points in tracks like "Kerosiini" it's the closest any band has come recently to touching what Dephosphorus exposed in their debut Axiom and this is very exciting.

At other points as in "Suurempi, Hallitsematon" or "Takauma" that same approach slows and the feeling the demo had returns but more enticing. The latter is a drifting labyrinthine series of rhythms that are oddly calming even when dissonant, and even with the sonic shredding of the vocalist cutting through the riffs. The drums are a bright pylon and here they toss and hurl between softer and more martial moments. It's a memorable track and one of the stand outs

The rest of their time they find something different to draw out through their style that sounds like Melechesh covered by a French black metal act playing '90's hardcore. Especially the first half of the record: it's not as obvious initially on the opener "Suuren Varjon Alla" until about the halfway marker where theirs a distinct Night Sky Transform vibe but once you hit "Ihmisyyden raja" their new tact reveals itself and it's pretty damn hyonotic. That track takes another turn later in the last quarter I wasn't expecting before circling back to the start.

The groovy and agitated riffs, enraged scratchy screams, crystal clear and fast percussion — all of it is very cohesive and easy to get hooked by. "Elämän Vaihtokauppa", which is definitely a standout for me, is another great example of this comfortable amalgamation of sounds that crushes and soothes all at once. The back end of this track has such a wicked riff, but from the beginning it's not that remarkable. Mid-paced, a little more traditionally thrashy with some proggy twang in there. A few moments where bouncy riffs and violent screams come through show where the song is heading, and once it hits about 2:15 in a truly gripping section ruptures forth and spreads to the end of the track.

They generally manage to stay away from driving something into the ground as well which can be a problem with groovy shit I suppose. For instance that last portion of that previously mentioned track doesn't stick around long despite it being hypnotic. And even in the less frantic, more slowly churning tracks like "Kolmetoista Askelta" or "Takauma" where there's less going on they don't damage them by lingering on one moment; even when particularly enjoyable.

In quicker tracks like "360 Astetta" (or again "Kerosiini", fuckin great shit) they blast through ascending discord over punk and pummeling blackened beats, then will rest momentarily to create excellent harmonious grooves with lots of string skipping. "Ikuistettu" is another example of this and closes the record nicely once showing their controlled harmonic chaos interact with the sounds of Dephosphorus, Converge and death metal.

Haapoja's potential has been given a proper exploration and outlet on this release, confidently approaching the level of excellence that Dephosphorus hold to both quickly and unexpectedly (minus the grind). Recommended. I think if you like Deathspell Omega, Rorschach, Ulcerate, Svart Crown, etc. you should at least give it a spin.

It's up for pay-what-you-want on bandcamp so there's no price other than your time. And lets be honest, if you're reading this you've probably already wasted more time doing something far less entertaining than listening to Haapoja.

DOWNLOAD (Bandcamp)
DOWNLOAD (Mediafire)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Wreck And Reference - C̶o̶n̶t̶e̶n̶t̶ (2013)

EP, The Flenser
May 21st, 2013

Genre: Experimental/Electronic Doom/Noise/Industrial/Post-Punk
Region: USA

I always love requests like this one because I would've put it up anyway as the band involved is killer. Wreck And Reference just happen to be on a streak with everything in their creative history since 2008 (?) being strictly different and enjoyable while also cathartic. C̶o̶n̶t̶e̶n̶t̶  (or No Content, dual meaning) is their most recent record and continues onward eager to explore, remaining unsurprisingly heavy and delightfully gloom ridden.

Through two short tracks this humble duo can convey quite a lot. C̶o̶n̶t̶e̶n̶t̶  feels like a brief revisiting of Black Cassette's themes in some ways or maybe excerpts from No Youth at it's most 'metal' moments if you can call them that. The material has not weakened, only furthered tempered and those behind it thirsty.

It's not as shocking as No Youth was to me in that their sophomore release took longer to warm up to than the debut, and the difference here is the impact with this 7" is as powerful as when I first heard Black Cassette. I felt it as soon as I heard the vocals on the opener "Absurdities & Echoes" which it's fair to say are haunting and pretty different from their previous experimentation.

It works so well with the lyrics and for the gloomy vibe of the song. The beginning draws in a lot of sounds slowly at first without becoming cluttered while a strong digitized chime quakes out a captivating lead, and the drumming in this intro rules. Very hypnotic, indeed continuing once the vocals float shakily in. During the core of the song hoarse spectral wails reverberate in the open making for very spacy or ethereal atmosphere.

The lyrical build in this both tranquil and jarring atmosphere is strong, leading to a climax of tremolo waves and rising cymbals— and a stunning frigidity washes over the song like various moments in The Angelic Process' work which was felt in the previous record as well, "Spectrum" and "Nausea" for instance. The louder the better.

It's the rolling, crackling, concussive pulses looping behind the church bell paced MPC and organ drone and rich percussion, becoming more pungent nearing the final quarter. It feels/sounds like somethings burning softly in the distance behind the aching and cathartic performance of Felix and Ignat. The vocals are particularly explosive by the end. That style is refreshing in general not even looking at their interesting approaches.

"Abhorrence" brings back the blackened yells, making this track fuckin' awesome instantly. Lyrically far more in step with this return while the hammering on the snare, and blaring MPC texture things nicely and then when all but the 'bass' tones drop out that subtle doom atmosphere amplifies a lot more.

It feels like you've just stepped into a funeral doom jam for ten seconds which is something they do exceedingly well without bass or guitar at this point. Proceeding from that moment the climb instrumentally is intense taking cues from the lyrics and the vociferous, shredding vocals. This comes to and end quickly with those thunderous tones again and the swirling rise in high frequencies and static giving a short does of eerie anxiousness.

Absolutely recommended if you couldn't already guess.. 2012 wasn't that long ago but even since No Youth they continue to mature creatively and the hooks just dig in deeper. If you've liked everything they've done before this should not disappoint you. Passionate consistency, tense and rapturous, unorthodox heaviness — C̶o̶n̶t̶e̶n̶t̶  continues resolutely with all of this. It feels like there's more coming soon and they've generously shared for free a glimpse at that. You shouldn't skip it and if you're new it's as good a place as any.

You can grab a digital copy from them on bandcamp or a physical copy from The Flenser. The Flenser also put this up digitally for real cheap but everyone always appreciates "free" direct from the artists too.

DOWNLOAD (Bandcamp)
DOWNLOAD (Mediafire)

Cower / Thou - War is the Force That Gives Us Meaning: A Two Part Analysis of Personal and Inter-Personal Conflict (2011)

Split, Vendetta Records
June 21st, 2011

Genre: Sludge/Hardcore/Doom Metal
Region: USA

I wish I was more attentive to Cower's side of this brilliant split record with Thou when I first heard it. I mean Thou's side is just more unquestionably awe-inspiring and malice-soaked doom metal so it's hard to tear one's attention away from their side of any split; even when paired with the likes of Hell and in this case Cower.

Between the two bands and their strong, proven approaches to the niches of sludgey hardcore and callous doom it goes without saying this split has excellent variety. This is not at the expense of spellbinding song weaving whether it be furious beauty or an unbearable darkness as Cower and Thou only cull their best for each release.

When matched with Thou one might assume the younger Cower may not be up to the task of balancing the monolithic tendencies of the Baton Rogue sludge beasts, but they easily hold their own. Their use of a varied of vocal styles, the strong bass foundation throughout each track, and the creative blend of genres ensures they can stand next to such towering doom pillars like Thou.

In fact I've grown to enjoy their contribution just a bit more than the second side.

Cower's side is titled "Act I: Burn The Banks" and starts with the track named after themselves, and the subject of giving up. It's heavy and between sludge and stoner rock at first, the speed is increased briefly to bring in the hardcore but after a silence the sludgy vibe returns as we barrel into "Clonorchis Sinensis. Rhythmic hardcore takes hold for a moment before the slow jog heaviness returns, it's compouded at various points through hoarse shouts and  splashing cymbals over a wicked breakdown.

"Cut Down" is only 27 seconds but not necessarily in the powerviolence mindset despite being fast — it's contrasted by the acoustic interlude direcly afterward which is melancholic and somber. It brings other elements into the collection sounds like a piano and digital modulation near the end. Later on "Vise Grip" takes a similar approach There's a concerted effort to return to devestaing sludgcore with "Sixty Years", a track that trudges at first but hits the boosters at the one minute mark and scorches shit with noisy, drum blasts and scraping riffs. The return to slugging with trilled bends and stomping riffs. Lots of big grooves in that last moment alone

This leads to "Torch" which is my second favorite on the split. It starts similar to "Sixty Years" blending stoner riffs and hardcore pacing but by the time we're into the middle of the track, delay and reverb effects engulf the sparkling tremolo riff left hanging. It becomes manipulated for about a minute creating very pretty textures befire

My favorite track by far is "Rainmaker", it sounds closest to their material on Mind Over Matter:  bouncy and terribly catchy, considerably moreso once the great bass solo hits (these guys can punch those things through at just the right moment it seems). Bursting from that to a upbeat climb and descent through multiple noise rock attitudes, they eventually setltle on something amazing. It's probably the most memorable moment on the record, simple too, coupled with the lyrics there's a longing for release pervading this song and it's heartfelt:

"So come my friends and let us share our last breath. Let me live under the sun and remember. It's only for fun. Just remember... The tides will go in. And the tides will go out, and the leaves will grow again. Every beginning has to end, and every ending brings new beginnings, don't forget to scream and shout. There is no end."

It ends on a slightly depressive series of fuzzed out notes, and bleeds into a bonus track I don't know much about; I suspect it's a cover. Cower have done well on this split and it was a great prelude to the full length last year.

Moving on to Thou's side titled "Act II: Big City" which was released as a single EP online and kicks in with a even more sluggish interpretation of a Cower song from their first record (Hatred Songs) — it's fuckin ugly. Nothing but feedback, vocals and singular tom strikes for the majority of the track.

Then we get to dig into newer material with "View of a Burning City", a clouded lament to the state and industry's siege on humanity (in classic Thou fashion) starting darkly melodic and discordant much like their Hell split — and then straight into what I recognize as the down-tuned beat in Eminem's "Guilty Conscience"... it's bizarre. The song progresses away from this into more recognizably torturous swaying through low guitars and black vocals and I immediately feel quite cozy here. No one does this better than Thou or at all like them.

"How Lonely the City Sits" continues the vitriolic assault found before it calling out bred mediocrity, urban stagnation and the alienation it brings. This one has a fucking gripping groove midway through that flows so smoothly as Brian shouts "THE DEAFENING, ENDLESS, COMPLETE ISOLATION!!!". Thou show again and again why they sit on the throne of doom. The last section of the track brings scratchy dissonance back briefly as it slowly fades in feedback.

Closing with "Milestone" the desperate struggle continues unabated. Sliding warbled downtuned slaughter for the first while, with a great use of pinched harmonics interspersed in the marching. It gets a little more claustrophobic for a few seconds for the change in pace, where Brian's vocals become increasingly haggard and deformed in his bleak recitations. Near the end the vocals turn to clean slow chants while a buried lead riff distorts and drowns, however it reverts to more slogging before the abrupt close.

An awesome split with two dedicated acts I love a lot. This is worth the cash if you can find a copy of the LP, even if you're just in it for Thou. The art is fantastic and high quality outside of the crumbling doom and sludge imprinted on the black record. I don't know of any big labels or distros who still have copies (some smaller ones like this maybe) but they might have a few while touring still (I got mine at the Gilead Media Festival)

You can grab Cower's side for free on their band camp and Thou make all of their material available on their official site.

DOWNLOAD (Zippyshare)
DOWNLOAD (Mediafire)
DOWNLOAD (Bandcamp)  <— Cower side only!
DOWNLOAD (Noladiy direct) <— Thou side only!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Baptists - Bushcraft (2013)

Full Length, Southern Lord Records
February 19th, 2013

Genre: Hardcore
Region: Canada

Now that it's been out a little while here's the new Baptists record. Links will probably get taken down via DMCA complaint I would think but who knows... I haven't received one of those in a while.

Baptists had a nice 7" record a while back that showed great promise. I remember stumbling on it and enjoying it but never giving it too many replays honestly. Bushcraft is a little different obviously since I'm coming back quite often. The attitude is one of solid confidence. They know what direction they're going for and they nail it pretty damn well on record and even more so in live environments; without paying much mind to inevitable detractors. I recommend you see them if they drift by you.

So people have been comparing them to Converge a whole lot. This is not without reason, I mean a cursory listen is all you need to recognize what people are recognizing. Kurt Ballou brought them over to record this, and the guys have been admitted Converge fans from the start — it's kind of hard to not find their influence somewhere at this point.

But I would argue there's a far bigger east coast Cursed style/sound cascading throughout Bushcraft that mixes nicely with their love of Converge (whether intentional or not). Couple that with their experience within local grind/crust acts and the west coast atmosphere there's a comfortable synthesis, creating very catchy and energetic expression of hardcore somewhere between the old and new.

By comfortable I don't mean lazy. Baptists have struck a wonderful balance between the crusty-punk discord and anger of Cursed and the twangy high-speed pummeling hardcore that Converge have helped pioneer. I think a closer comparison could be made with All Pigs Must Die maybe, certainly if you compare songs like "Sacrosanct" with "In Droves" where both are drawing out that vehement punk energy from the past and bringing renewed vibrancy.

Obviously each band there has different plans of attack. For Baptists the one they've cut works well and reminds me of the type of thing Vilipend is doing by bringing back old school metalcore, where Baptists are less on the Rorschach end of things.

Their sound is kind of an anomaly in the context of their peers and colleagues regionally. At least as far as my limited experience or knowledge tells me. While the Vancouver and Victoria areas are no stranger to filthy grind and powerviolence, most of the crusty hardcore that I've heard like FAMINE, Subsist, or Erosion does not dabble in the chaotic, Deadguy/Rorschach twang arena that is becoming more recognizable (especially in the Deathwish Inc. stable). Nor the dark rusted hatred of Cursed and it's distinct 'Toronto' aura —  instead the island and mainland groups often fall along Infest and Nasum lines, while also subtly skirting the recent blackened wave too.

Baptists have embraced and tempered this selectively and injected it with a 'cascadian' ethos which casts scorn on the concrete expansion over the beauty of their west coast home. I'm not arguing that this makes their sound wholly unique but there's enough spice in there to ensure that Bushcraft escapes the 'copy-cat' label in my opinion.

Almost in a stealthy manner actually. Like I said if you give it only a few listen the comparisons to Converge are unavoidable, but I found that a few of the tracks like "Russian Spirits" and "Bullets" forced me to return due to their ridiculous hooks. Eventually I found myself running through this 27 minute record twice in a row every other day, it really crept up on me and I have a feeling this is the case for a lot of people. Even those who are tired of Southern Lord's grip on what some designate 'faux'-thrashcrust should look into Bushcraft.

As you can expect the production is rich which is great for their sound, so only gains since the 7" in that respect. The percussion is right fucking there and the guitar tone fees quite lively, bright but with some jagged edges while the bassist slickly carves a spot in the madness. Some are going to cry about the production and I understand.

Regardless, all four members are undeniably skilled in their crafts. The passion is evident as they layer on the simple and rewarding or cathartic formula of thrashcore ingrained in them. From the outset of "Betterment" we are met with a series of dark twangs and into a hissing drum surge before the track actually kicks in — switching between jerky slams and midpaced galloping, vocal chords shredding through words of regret. You get a good sample of his range from more deep death-like barks to gritty snarls/rasps. A good opener before getting to the more meaty sections.

"Think Tank Breed" is a scratchy furious tune and the shortest on the record. It makes up for it in frantic bludgeonings and later some shining injections into the rhythm and a violent chunky closing riff. On more laid back tracks like "Still Melt" my attention doesn't drift: the rhythm is hypnotic both the melodic riffs and the metaphoric, hallucinogenic lyrics together while the drumming is consistently compressing in more controlled blasts.

This aspect is always an impressive battering like axes on a felled evergreen. The intro to this track for example is real nice in that regard. "Soiled Roots" is another slow one that will bind you over it's five minute ritual, entirely groove-laden bass-filled, and as heavy as logging truck tumbling down a mountain. That weight increases ten-fold in the last minute.

On the subject of words: lyrically there's the classic punk social commentary through short and clever lines laced in venom."Mortar Head" for instance, not only blazing and awesome with a touch of that blackened vibe, but could be interpreted multiple ways. It remains interesting if it's commentary on the societal or state reliance on bureaucratic ideological power groups ("Think Tank Breed") who are disconnected from reality on the ground. Maybe I'm reading to much into it. But Baptists also tackle that raw expression of humanity's connection to the forests and biosphere blatantly as well (if the cover and title didn't tip you off).

It's not always obvious: shorter tracks like "Crutching Trails" give the impression of possible relation to the environment but deal more in carving ones own bath in terms of belief, release from moral slavery over a high-speed, slightly dissonant thrash attack which gets a little more complex during the brief chorus.

On the other end the whole title of the record and the song "Bushcraft" as well is just spelling it out plain over some wicked riffs: "I want to practice bushcraft and the leave this shit behind!" over intense snare work and feedback. I'm pretty sure anyone living in the Cascadian region (or anything like it) in the current climate has seriously considered this at one point — just it's never been expressed this well through chaotic and wailing hardcore. Normally it's a more meditative black metal approach so this is refreshing to me and the self-titled track is particularly captivating.

"Abandon", dealing with abstraction and apathy (perhaps?), is the final song and turns into an extremely boisterous one at the end following a bass solo. In a live environment this is another one that ignites the venue with it's bouncy cadence and groove.

As I already mentioned my favorites are probably "Russian Spirits" and "Bullets" because they're sincerely excellent jams on every level. If you don't have time for the whole thing at least give those two a chance. "Bullets" might take the cake: it's is wild and flailing, whining bent strings punch through and stormy percussion overwhelms for the entirety until at two minutes in the break down comes — its a magnificent moment on the record (drummer's a beast). However slams that end "Russian Spirits" make me reconsider which is heavier.

Overall Baptists have released something awesome and different from even the local fare even if external comparisons make this seem less significant. You can tell they had fun pouring their energy into this and I think it payed off. Bushcraft is the kind of album I imagine blasting in a beater pickup truck (or hatchback as is often the case here) while tearing through the gravel logging roads and muddied trails of the mainland and Vancouver Island, hollering as you escape the encroaching industrial landscapes in that brief afternoon of freedom.

That is, if people around here who went bush-bombing didn't only listen to AC/DC, Lil Jon, and Steel Panther.
You can get this probably at a local record shop but if not you go to Southern Lord or a distro who carries their titles (there are many). Or go to bandcamp because they have it up finally. You should probably follow them too.

DOWNLOAD (Zippyshare)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Gets Worse - Gets Worse / Year of the Bastard / Negative (2013)

EP, Hygiene Records / Evil Purple Bastard
August 3rd, 2012 / January 3rd, 2013 / May 10th, 2013

Genre: Grindcore/Powerviolence
Region: UK

This becoming a common theme but yes, once again I went about my life oblivious to something absolutely devastating last year: Get’s Worse and their self-titled 10” grind/powerviolence masterpiece. I believe it was the curator of Perpetual Strife or the guys at Built To Blast that alerted me to Gets Worse. And these guys are not fucking around. They craft savage grind, blunt and unyielding in it’s fury. Shit that is hard to top.

So while I missed that last year, you better believe I’m all over their two new EPs: Year of the Bastard which is digital only for now and Negative which was recently test-pressed in 10 copies for now. Both of these records prove Gets Worse remain stiffly at the head of the pack in vicious sonic warfare especially in the UK and are unwilling to compromise in their composition of undeniably ferocious powerviolence.

I’m going to wrap these two new EPs into one post here and also because it can’t be ignored I’m including the 10” from last year because it’s truly terrific; making this a three-in-one. Also I’m not including a link for the Negative EP that was just released right now since I don’t want to be a complete scumbag and leak shit. Besides it is a test pressing and it’ll be pressed in larger numbers and probably make it’s way onto bandcamp for free like all their other records.

Some patience if you please. I'll post a link pretty damn soon.

If you’re not familiar with Gets Worse they’re a three piece who hail from the UK and who are also pretty damn new to the scene as far as I can tell. You wouldn’t know it from listening though. Their first demo surfaced April last year and already blew shit up effectively, but it was quickly followed by the 10” which displayed powerviolence that will loosen bowels and leave massive poisonous craters; so loud and polished and tight it’s unreasonable.

Gets Worse are different from Napalm Death, Iron Lung, Water Torture, and Frightener but residing in that same realm, taking copious influence from them. Clean and filthy at the same time, the guitar and bass are thick and gritty chewing through speakers and headphones, tight drumming rattling the skull and blasting holes in windows, and vocals that will collapse lungs. Social and political themes abound, dealing in the disgust with weakness and ignorance, intolerance, all that good shit and fuck does it translate with the frontman’s pipes. The art adorning their records (by Tom is the Bastard) is pretty damn eye catching and slick too.

The self-titled 10” I grabbed maybe two months back and along with that ACxDc/Magnum Force/Sex Prisoner and SBB/Water Torture has been in heavy rotation ever since. Packaging is beautiful and so is the colour. Thirteen tracks in sixteen minutes (their longest release, including a Charles Bronson cover) and all of them gold, with a few major stand outs even then.

Three of them are within the first couple of minutes: "Tuff Guy" starts slow, an evil bass riff before the guitars join the groove— then boom, you're thrust into a squall of anger. The break down comes and then again the track accelerates savagely; the e-brake pulled one last time before the end. "Cheapass Weekend" scalds you with the blazing snare and sliding fury of powerchords before taking a very traditional punk groove and driving it into filth. It's a great thing indeed.

“False Friends” is the third monolith, craving high volume — a frenzied stomping brawl with one bringing in harmonics, and then a gap with a line worthy of a smile: "GO FUCK YOURSELF, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE!" Very cathartic and also a bit amusing, proceeded by a distant shouting chorus as the riff gains momentum to a blunt ending.

Really though everything Gets Worse have recorded hear shouldn't be taken lightly. It's all written to be razor sharp and brutal. "Kill Shot" and "Armchair Activist" contain some huge grooves and nice switch-ups in pacing, easily as addictive as the former three songs. And then all of a sudden they drop "...No Fuss" on us and oh man is this ridiculously heavy. It's the first truly slow track and remains so only for a short time after a deceptive intro ramp: each blow from the guitar/bass coupled with the cymbals crashing, kicks peppering the sludge. This doesn't last however and the turn is not as predictable either: a brief grind and then into a bouncy set of rhythms.

"Straight Up Schrompfin", "Beyond Words", and "Liquor Lobotomy" have some of these lethal slow moments as well but play with them differently, and without fail coming up with spellbinding material.  Particularly "Beyond Words". The Charles Bronson cover is spot on and "Loner" should be mentioned specifically for it's Adventure Time sample at the end, if not for it's 30 seconds of stroke-inducing grind. The only other relatively short track is "Toothless" which quickly winds up and back down just as fast.

Year of the Bastard continues the attitude soaking the 10” with four filthy slivers, starting with the slow crawl intro of “No Resolve” which turns into a bloodbath not long after the sludge has settled. "Daily Fail" is 22 seconds of utter obliteration with an opening riff that will sear into your brain, followed by the no less grating and livid “Tunnel of Goat!”.

The self-titled track is the last one and is vrushing in it’s vitriolic agony, the vocals before a feedback-drenched sample (hilarious by the way) are some of the most pissed I’ve heard in a while — spazzing over top another deeply pleasing slow riff. There is no way you’re not enjoying this if you even remotely showed interest in the self-titled record.

Finally there’s the newest slice of material entitled Negative. And guess what? It’s no less terrifyingly awesome as the previous two records. Opening with a short and slow intro (“Negative PV”), Too Much Talk shows immediately Get Worse haven’t been slacking with a white hot attack, leading into a crushing break down and a frantic close.

The beast in this one though is quite obviously “Excessive Bullshit” — holy fucking shit is this aggressive and loud. This is the one that's been on repeat for me: an open that is a blistering pummel cut into by a perfect groove, which only gets more engrossing and reprehensibly enjoyable. It swings so powerfully you can't help but sway in it's gravity. The drums puncture your chest, spine-curving screams and growls shift to various styles all of which harbour great animosity in fractions of seconds. It's a track that will leave none standing.

“Scabs” sees them dive back into restless tumult, managing to entrance before droping out with only the bass left, and a final crushing riff. “Neighbourhood Ninja” opens the second side in expert fashion — eroding your bones with frenetic thrashing which opens up a bit more as the blasts become more punk-paced. “Pessimist” and “Positive PV?” might be my favorites on this side, back to back monstrous forces slamming down like granite slabs in rapid succession. The last one is “Stubborn” and it takes a similar approach to the opener but a little more bulky: tribal drums at first, then a slow writhe with layer screams and growing noise/feedback.

I suggest you do not hesitate to support these guys. I don’t know which release I like more because honestly they’re all without blemishes, equally enjoyable and jarring. This is sharp, finely tuned delicious grinding violence of the highest quality. Gets Worse have unleashed a series of precise strikes that will break bones if played at high enough volume.

The self-titled 10” is available for free download on their bandcamp while physical copies are very limited there. Same goes for over at Evil Purple Bastard (a few 10"'s, red I assume) and Hygiene Records (only the CD version) as well as probably a few distros, or from the band; they’ve said they’ll be out once the tour’s done. It comes with a download code for the Year of the Bastard EP which is not set to be released physically yet.

Negative is being pressed en mass to be released on May 10th as a co-release by Hygeine Records and Evil Purple Bastard so keep your eyes peeled for that. It is now available on bandcamp for free and in physical format. And also on bigcartel so there are many options guys.

Oh and as an added bonus they have their first demo up for free too if you’re into more free shit.


Oxtongue - Where The Light Is Mute (2013)

Full Length, Self-released / Holy Mountain Printing
January 15th, 2013

Genre: Sludge/Doom Metal
Region: Canada

Brooding and fomenting in Ontario for years amongst different projects apparently, three young gentlemen come together and former Oxtongue in 2012, finally releasing this slab of doom to the public at the beginning of this year. I think fans of doom will find something to enjoy in these friends heaping their sounds into the fray, and you can thank Severed Heads Open Minds for illuminating Where The Light Is Mute.

Oxtongue are new to the game but there's no denying Where The Light Is Mute is a half hour choleric ache, down-tuned and pavement splitting in three songs mired in darkness. There seems to be a theme flowing through the tracks but I do not have lyrics so I can't confirm; just going by the song titles. There's definitely some classic sludge influence that goes alone with the desolate semi-funeral doom acts like Atriarch and Bell Witch (you can hear it in the ending progressions of several tracks here), and for a self release the production is pretty damn good. The material is even better: keeping shit simple with dour sludge tonnage that sounds like it comes from veterans.

"Humanity: Born In The Way Of Eternal Greif" is the longest clocking in at just under 15 minutes. It's a clean chord driven procession of gloom for its entirety. The thundering, trudging drums for the entire opening three minutes are like sledgehammers wedging iron into stone, later taking a more measured pace once the bass guitar demolishes the build ambiance wonderfully. The only vocals are first heard as a faint whisper in the edge of an oceanic rift of silence between tom strikes and thick plucks — then a titanic upheaval is ushered in as the callous roars flood with the distortion, a return that crumbles all walls in its wake.

At this point it's a merciless steamrolling and it's getting clearer that while supposedly young, all three members are well versed in expressing sinister energies through foul trudging. After that plowing over the second half transitions to a sludgy build, aided at first with low, clean ceremonious chants but when the explosion comes the growls do too, along with another pancaking passage.

Actually following this the final legs of this song give me feelings of familiarity. My guess is it's close to the sound of the long defunct UK sludge band Capricorns' self-titled demo (a favorite gem of mine). The rhythm is totally reminiscent of that, but slowed and aided by modulated effects, a second lead of drowned tremolo harmony is also supporting it. That is not the end however: there's one final jaunt through the sludge with a tremendous groove, wallowing in crashing cymbals and heavy fuzz. Fucking heavy man and a promising start to the record.

Then we have "Anguish: Abide With Suffering" which takes that kind of structure heard at the tail end of the first track and runs with it for a bit before returning to a agonizing slither, circling a dark pit and slowly but surly returning to a midpaced sludge ritual. Oxtongue then bring shit back up to catastrophic heaviness, adding breaks in their slams to plam mute and moan chants into the gloomy air; a great section. There's a return to the drag for the down ramp of this track that gets progressively louder on the percussive end onyl to spike back up suddenly for the final two minutes back into that deadly groove.

The feedback and cymbal frenzy that leads from the last track into the last one, "Cessastion: The Shade Rapes Nativity", settles into a bassy, ebbying feedback with only cymbals and snare/kicks keeping the rumble company; distant shouting can be heard. The kick-in comes abruptly again and we're swept into a series of slow but powerful dirges. And one evolves into an even more evil section that grinds the listener into a pulp — it drops out again like the intro for just drums and vocals, a frightening and desolate moment before the hammer blows return in earnest. Again in the last few minutes a fantastic sludge groove bursts forth through a bass solo that kills. This climax is fucking captivating.

Another excellent doom act from the east. If you like shit like Bell Witch, Sound Asleep, Capricorns, Batillus, Haggatha, or good sludge and doom in general then I suspect you'll want to check this record out. Outside of not being heart-stoppingly innovative (which isn't a real complaint in most contexts)  there's really nothing to complain about. Just turn the lights down and the volume up, and prepare to be compressed in 31 minutes.

Where The Light Is Mute will soon be available via Holy Mountain Printing on limited vinyl (only 300 pressed) but was just recently pressed and sold in test-press form of which I was lucky enough to procure one of the five available (of 11 pressed). You can also stream it on bandcamp and they've made it available as a mediafire link in the sidebar there as well. Updates over yonder if you're into that.

DOWNLOAD (Mediafire)

Friday, May 3, 2013

Svartidauði - Flesh Cathedral (2012)

Full Length, Daemon Worship Productions
December 3rd, 2012

Genre: Black Metal
Region: Iceland

With the imminent release of one highly anticipated Icelandic black metal record (Wormlust's 'The Feral Wisdom") now would be a good time to shine the light on another hidden scourge emanating from that isolated and beautiful land. Svartidauði slowly and quietly honed their sound over ten years of selective demos and EPs, all their work thus far culminating with their first full record Flesh Cathedral and it is undoubtedly impressive and harrowing.

I admittedly only just caught on to the enigmatic one-piece Wormlust (for shame, yes) and this is the same for Svartidauði. Both of these bands are dabbling in the more dissonant, eerie sides of black metal via Deathspell Omega, or much like Thantifaxath likes to deal in but theirs is a little more distinct and jarring. Svartidauði have found another avenue to explore and they do it well.

Flesh Cathedral commences with "Sterile Seeds", a song that makes it clear from the outset that Svartidaudi have something unique brewing, crafting a swirling riff that begins as a muffled, crunchy pulse, chimes and chasmic barks incanting around it. Once the transformation through cycling noise is made you get a clearer picture of the beast surrounding and it's humbling to be sure.

These guys have taken great care in their writing, each song progressively gets more complex and spidering outward, mixing atmosphere with unnerving cacophony. Another big transition occurs around six minutes in, a pillar like jagged riff surfaces and will surface again. Infact the selftitled track here also has a similar evil riff that infects the rest of that track. Svartidauði cast a spell of monolithic proportions from the start and I easily fell under their spell.

Very much like Necrite in tone I would argue but with a different focus, which is being sick and warped and dragging in acrid fog, the structures are corroded and fluid: the riffs sound tense and severely malformed, between the blasts of cold tremolo attacks, the vocals coarse and shrouded. The approach is much different. Also the record feels clean in that the instruments don't get muddled but retains that wonderful murk so it's still organic sounding, not sterile. In the wide open tracks they present there's a lot of room for the drummer to be creative and you see great examples of that in the particularly long final track.

Occasionally like in the opener they strategically place sampling or noisey moments, in this case almost sounding like a looped passing train, or the final fifteen seconds of "The Perpetual Nothing" where there's spine tingling metal scraping, like rusted gates swinging and steam valves being released.

By the time you're introduced to Svartidauði in this current incarnation on the first track they've shown that their dedication over all that time has amounted to something worthy of being put along side their peers. Certainly something of a milestone for them I would imagine.

"The Perpetual Nothing" leads with it's dissonant side but devolves momentarily into frantic classic blackened turmoil, blasting and occasional slower fills; showing their cabilties to thrash with the best between their experimentation. This cycle repeats to the point of a percussive cascade, directly into a mesmerizing modulating string skipping passage, bass pounding it's own path, peppered with wails and switch ups on the drum front. I enjoy these moments a shit ton and not only does Svartidaudi's technique employ a decent amount, they manage to further alter it in it's course several times in this song alone to make the groove unending and refreshing.

One of the best moments on the record and it ruptures into a very Deathspell Omega-esque chaotic brawl, in fact several very interesting tumultuous sections close out this song. The tight, technical yet atmospheric approach is hard not to love.

It's impressive at this point already but the Icelandic witchdoctors have another nearly thirty minutes of conjuring to perform, and the selftitled track continues their established path. "Flesh Cathedral" actually feels a little more bassist friendly as the growl is far more present here than previously, particularly at one moment a quarter in where it's rumbling strongly alongside the guitars discord and then in the final fade where its isolated before a tribal build.

At the halfway mark there is this mind rending build, it's completely intoxicating as it fades between background noise, upfront sharp gouging, and slow sustains where the bass is left to ponder over feedback. But the melody is still there, twisted and lingering for a time before going back to that ugly scraping over plunging bass lines one last time.

Out of a tribal drum build from the previous song, a squall erupts in the form of "Psychoactive Sacraments", the eighteen minute leviathan closer. It's longer as it indulges in more slower writhes at various points which remain creative and chilling, but the start is far more in step with DSO again. One of those slower sections comes pretty early though and you get a sense as to how oppressive they will continue to get, in one instance the bassist pulls some Forest-like fret work.

The decay, the suddenness with which it stops and morphs to a blackened blitz — this pattern sucks you under ocassionally breaking back upwards for one of those twangy, strained slow downs. Once or twice like in the first track the silence returns and the riff is muffled for instance in the middle here, though its far more brief, buttressed by aching screams that sometimes waver close to clean territory. A pretty big groove evolves from one of those dirges and leads to a solo on what sounds like a flute to me (probably melded some with a lead guitar, or an effect), soaring above the dissonant rhythm and contrasting well.

Oh and those last few minutes after the collapsing chords where the riff sounds isolated, stuck repeating and pitch shifting as it's wound and unwound, it almost sounds like a twisted reinterpretation of the last few seconds of Pantera's "Floods". Nice and eerie way to end the record.

If you didn't already know I really recommend fans of crawling black metal get on this one. Enormous, complex, maybe a little psychedelic, pretty damn vile and captivating. I myself am ashamed I had not heard of these guys before last year but I'll certainly be watching them eagerly now. In the top twenty of 2012 no doubt and in my top ten, I gotta recommend this for those in love with the twisted and heavy like Deathspell Omega, Necrite, and Nightbringer. Flesh Cathedral is a wicked black metal gem that should not go unnoticed.

So far this is pressed on cds from Daemon Worship Productions but every copy has been sold out for a while which sucks cause I would love to get a copy. Follow these guys on facebook for more info on future pressings and their plans.

DOWNLOAD (Zippyshare)
DOWNLOAD (Mediafire)

Braveyoung - Will The Dust Praise You (2013)

EP, Self-released / Independent
May 3rd, 2013

Genre: Post-Rock
Region: USA

Braveyoung are definitely something ever more beautiful then originally imagined. Floating like they've cut ties to an anchor since leaving their moniker Giant as a widening, quietus plane has been formed between. A space where minimalism and tragic, sombre ethereality bloom, and that is fully realized on this haunting EP Will The Dust Praise You.

This has been streaming on their soundcloud page since late 2012 I believe, I heard it then but wanted to wait for official news. Where as the recent single was more of a heavenly siren call and breathed something supernatural into some of the uplifting aspects of their sound, Will The Dust Praise You takes the most melancholic moments of We Are Lonely Animals and expands them, enriching the already soul wrenching isolation in four movements.

I only labeled this post-rock because WALA at least resembled it, it's clear they're now a little outside of that. At this point for the time being they've embraced forms of minimalism, cold strings delicate piano, haunting and deep ambiance — as you've noticed in the brilliant single as well no doubt, same with their collaboration with The Body last year. That is the soul focus here: encase you in atmosphere through ethereal hymns flowing so smoothly, gently lifting you sometimes to terrifying heights only to cushion your slow, dark descent.

Only four steps in this journey but they're rich and consuming, albeit quiet and measured with the finale taking the emotional cake no question. Expect cellos and violin "Inquietud" serves as a telling welcome as moaning violin and other strings meet you, telling a sad tale and leaving the path dimly lit to "No Cure". A tranquil rise and the lonely plinks set in while the whirring continues, faint clicks of pedals, a second ascent is triggered as fingers press down progressively harder on those keys.  The switch there brings a muffled blossoming of beauty only for the piano to cement things one more time.

"I Felt Even Then How Monstrously A Man May Get Used To Things" is the third passage, reminding me the most of material from WALA with it's cautious, fragile keys which grow in confidence as the song unwinds, soft drone gaining weight with each bass pluck beneath — never trouncing the piano until the very tip of the track. It's the simplicity and minimal complexity used so well to channel some deep moving sentiment within all members, drawing it out from all of them as one cold melody. I would say they've accomplished translating it just fine. A very touching moment on this EP.

But it is "Relief Is Near In Four Parts", an eight minute trek, that as I said is my favorite here. The whine through the reverb fog that you find in the first minutes strikes deep within, slowly constructing itself as you're brought to the darkest, abandoned reaches of the sky over snowy tundra. Once the piano enters a whole new mass is given. The removal and sudden injection of the swells and ebbs, recombining at various volumes makes this all the more crushing,

Layered cello and violins with very subtle bass over an incredible hum, all of this reaches a climax and in the last two minutes a very Godspeed You Black Emperor approach is felt in the aural deterioration of the drone afterwards. It's hard not to draw comparisons at this point. Their sound is their own though and the wavering, diminishing drone is still gripping as it leaves.

Braveyoung do this well and you see it throughout their work. Growing sounds like flowers from the ground over time, and suddenly you're in the middle of this field of colour being overtaken by the thickest of mists. That's how it should be done and they do it effortlessly without pretense, and without padding or stretching. Just good, passionate writing.

Will The Dust Praise You is huge , lonely and graceful. Once again Braveyoung continue to set themselves apart from the bloated herd and cut through the wilderness of their own dense, haunting world emerging all the more impressive. You can preorder this directly from the band if you're in the US (two different versions, one containing individual art for songs) and if you're international like me send them an email about it. Or if you want go to bandcamp and pick it up for $5 and stream it.

DOWNLOAD (Bandcamp)