Mini-Reviews from Around the Bowl: 08/30/2018

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And thus, another summer draws to a close. If nothing else, a nice selection of albums to ease into the inexorable march of time: BonehunterThou, Alice in ChainsMIDST, Mutilation RitesEgor Lappo, Malum and LLNN.

BonehunterChildren of the Atom
Hells Headbangers | September 14th, 2018

Them bonehuntin’ boys is back, this time with a less prominent wolfbeardong, but still rocking that mix of black metal, crust, and a dash of heavy metal, and thematically still operating at the crossroads of sci-fi and smut (“Cybernetic Vampirism”, “Sex Messiah Android”). I’m happy to say that the sound has cleared up a good deal since the last effort, which was just a bit too murky. This helps the heavy metal parts (i.e. some more melodic riffs and blazing solos) to cut through much more effectively, and the sound makes for a great thrashy vibe. The black metal side is in good health, too, with abrasive vocals remaining largely unchanged and the rest of the band going into full tilt blasting and shredding now and then. It’s unabashed, non-stop fun. – Hans


Thou – Magus
EVP Recordings | August 31st, 2018

When will Thou bring the grunge? Not now, not ever. Magus embarks on a return to the core aesthetic that Thou has been tilling since their inception: supreme atmospheric sludge. I’m trying to beat around the bush that is accusing Thou of playing it safe here, but it’s just too big a darn bush to beat all the way around. So yeah, if you were expecting some amalgam of the fantastic experimentation that gave birth to the Inconsolable and Rhea Sylvia EPs from several days ago, or even a continuation of the ex box ethos of Summit and Heathen, then you might be a wee skosh underwhelmed by Magus. Or just plain whelmed, as the density, power, and stamina on display here is nothing to balk at. FFO: Epic sludge, “Thou shalt” jokes. – Richter


Alice in Chains – Rainier Fog
BMG | August 24th, 2018

New Alice in Chains on the horizon is always something to look forward to, something with a minimum 99% assured quality too. Rainier Fog continues the post-reunion AiC trend of striking a perfect balance between grimy, almost dissonant doom riffs, dark vocal harmonies and sad-but-uplifting choruses. Jerry Cantrell’s capacity to write songs that are new but familiar is in full swing, and I’d dare say in better shape than ever. Album closer and contender for Slow Sadboi Song of the Year “All I Am” is hands down one of Alice in Chain’s best acoustic/ballad tracks (and definite contender for best song period) and would be reason enough to listen to the album even if the rest of the songs weren’t as good as they are. – Moshito


MIDST – MIDST
Independent | August 4th, 2018

I really only have a passing interest in noise, but this strikes a good balance between accessible and demanding, kind of a middle ground between the intensity of power electronics and the meditative calm of ambient noise. The sound collages have enough going on to be more than monotone droning, but rarely become overwhelming. If the middle of a thunderstorm, the sound of a helicopter, or the weird way the air flaps at a certain speed when you have your car window open sound musical to you, you will dig this. The most interesting part is when noise and analog drums start to duke it out in the course of the “the_kiss” tetralogy, noise trying to drown out the drums, drums trying to impose structure onto the noise, both succeeding at times, but mostly coexisting begrudgingly in the middle. – Hans


Mutilation RitesChasm
Gilead Media | July 20th, 2018

File this under NEW SCHOOL OV GNARLY RIFFS: dexterous but not techy, grimy but not rotten, deep but not cavernous, atypical but not totally fucking dissonant. Also, file this under BLACK METAL BANDS WHO’VE DECIDED NOT TO PLAY BLACK METAL ANYMORE. That’s right, like so many of their contemporaries, Mutilation Rites has jumped like rats from the burning ship of black metal to the not burning ship of death metal — but in this case the transition was more of a clean break than a measured shift of phase. What Chasm lacks in distinction or personality, it makes up for with muscularity, bravado and RRRRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIIIIFFFFFFFSSSSSSS. This is a summer fling, not a COMMITMENT. FFO: Succumb, Malthusian. Possibly NFFO: Old Mutilation RitesRichter


Egor LappoWay Without Light
Independent | July 1st, 2018

This album practically screams its influences in your face, but there are so damn many that it still sounds incredibly fresh. It’s an honorable mix of old and new school prog metal with an ambitiously epic sound. Using a collection of guest vocalists gives the album a bit of that Ayreon feel and prevents any song from sounding like a clone of the last. This guy clearly has an ear for this type of composition, and while not much new is invented, it’s pretty fun to listen to a love letter to the genre. If you know the prog scene well, you’re likely to recognize a new reference every minute or so, but the big ones are Dream Theater and Devin Townsend. (Track 8 may have been a mistake). – Joaquin


Malum Lathspell Luciferian Nightfall
Helter Skelter / Blood Harvest | May 28th, 2018

While a relative newcomer, Malum‘s members have have practiced their arts in Infernarium, Sarkrista and Kalmankantaja among others, but it never quite shone through in their earliest work. And even though each consecutive release has seen them improve, musically the band’s struggled to establish themselves. Whereas they previously excelled (relatively) on the more atmospheric side of their black metal, Luciferian Nightfall brings more face to the punchier sections as well. Which means that even though the excessive lengths haven’t disappeared, they’re much less of a detriment. The last track “Void” adds a bit to their palette, with it’s lengthy piano intro and combining the atmospheric and direct halves so that upon first spin I was surprised it was not the first of Lathspell‘s half. True enough, that is exactly what they do. Three songs, each better than the last, of riffy, atmosphere heavy black metal that doesn’t quite stand up to their best, but is sure to please any fan of the style. – Karhu


LLNN – Deads
Pelagic Records | April 27th, 2018

LLNN received a wee bit of coverage in a prior round of minis and were described as post metal for the impatient. I’m not sure if that statement is still true, but I can tell you this thing kills slowly and methodically. The electronic and synth parts are now fleshed out a bit more, especially with the two interludes, and compositions are drawn out more, either taking some time to develop or to ride an idea for a while. There goes the “for the impatient” part, I guess, but this is still far from bloated; what they lead up to is always worthwhile and doesn’t make songs unnecessarily unwieldy, and the bits they dwell on are always utterly crushing. “Parallels” and “Armada” are downright ridiculously heavy affairs, but even stuff like the quieter “Appeaser” successfully conjures an atmosphere of sheer misery. Sadbois, Angrybois, fans of sludge, fans of doom; there’s something here for everyone (that matters). – Hans


Hey you. Yeah YOU. Want to contribute to mini-reviews? Find an album you’ve dug (or not) that preferably hasn’t been reviewed on the blog yet and has been released recently (within the last few months, or year if you’re so inclined), write around 100-120 coherent words about it and send it to toiletminis[AT]gmail[DOT]com. Please include the album’s release date, title, label, a link to the band’s facebook (if they have one), another one to their bandcamp (or any other place to listen to/buy the album if they don’t have one) and any other information/links that you think are relevant and want to include.

Don’t do it for me. Do it for the ghost of the MasterLord.

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