July Roundup of Black, Death & Industrial Punk
Got the latest from Virulent Life, Cultes des Ghoules, Gojira, Yoth Iria & Pi$$er.
Virulent Life – Self-titled
An upstart group of no-nonsense, straightforward death/grind, Virulent Life is formed by the current and former members of God Disease, Marrasmieli and Invisible Enemy.
If I were to describe their minute+ songs as filled with blast beats and tremolo-picked rot interspersed with punkier riffs, I wouldn’t necessarily do justice to the group, but you’d know exactly what you were getting yourself into.
If what you thought you were into happened to be akin to the idea of Repulsion, only with a semblance of precision the former would have been unlikely to allow for themselves, and vocals of less than decipherable nature (scarcely seeming like pronunciation was attempted), you’d be right. The lowest squeals slosh by like wet shit, which is more of a compliment than you’d think, unless you’re a goregrind fan, in which case it’s less than you’d hope for.
That semblance of precision keeps Virulent Life from ever reaching (or stumbling—take your pick) too far onto the punkier side of grind, even during “Black Metal Elitist’s” back-half Napalm Death-break. The self-titled EP is a very good game opener, but in the future, some more memorable riffs would not go awry, at the very least a few more individually recognizable moments like the aforementioned break would greatly brighten up what is already an effort worthy of consideration. And next time you write an OnlyFans tirade, publish the lyrics or have the courtesy of painting your cover yellow.
Gojira – Fortitude
Certainly no one is expecting Gojira to bring back death metal into their sound, to re-introduce the elements of prog once forfeited, to write more than a couple of riffs per song for more complex arrangements or to draw from the richer rhythmic foreground again.
Indeed, I may have been alone in my, perhaps, unjust expectation they would now properly introduce the psychedelic element flashed in the Magma teasers.
Alas, Gojira are as they were, firmly on the deceivingly simplified groove metal path, adorning it still with the remnants of the prog once permeating them. Big choruses, big piledriver riffs and hooks honed to a sheen, with a couple of those trademark squeals to remind you which band you’re listening to.
As for newer influences, Gojira experiments further with the now dominant clean vocals and chants while discovering more ways to slip melodies into their songs. On occasion they break out the tribal drums as if to make up for the dryness and relative boringness of their current rhythmic soil. “The Trails” demonstrates the strife between the idiosyncratic sound Gojira’s crafted and the attempts to break out of it; in its apparent desire to expand the album’s, (and the band’s) palette, it ends up palely recreating the mellower moments from Elephant Sausage.
Fortitude, at least on its first half, is not without virtue, but ultimately no more than a poor imitation of the Gojira I became infatuated with, and the exact same record Sepultura got dunked on for making last year. And a couple of years before that. And a couple of years before that.
Cultes Des Ghoules – Deeds Without a Name
A couple months back I noted Cultes des Ghoules had dropped two new EPs out of nowhere. I used the opportunity to discuss the ritual ambient-focused Eyes of Satan, and today have returned with Deeds Without a Name.
Of the two, the latter is considerably more gangly, riff-centered, and brutish. It’s never too simple or straightforward in the first wave-influenced sound Cultes des Ghoules is most commonly associated with.
Indeed, “Dirty Deeds at the Crossroads” opens up with exactly that, but more boisterous and frantic than I recall the band being for a few records. The middle part, however, bridges the two EPs together, leading into an organ-led and stricter riff-storm with some of Mark of The Devil’s most inhumane vocals.
“Buried in Cursed Soil” somehow manages to combine the stricter and looser sides of the band via a wandering bassline and never stops anywhere particular, taking itself deep into the territories of lunacy. Best Cultes des Ghoules in a good while.
Yoth Iria – As the Flame Withers
Early last year Yoth Iria released their debut EP, marking Jim Mutilator’s return to music after an extended hiatus, as well as renewing the collaboration between himself and The Magus.
I was especially fond of the EPs slow, doomy and middle-eastern flavoured “Sid Ed Djinn” and though As The Flame Withers doesn’t exactly offer a sequel to it, Yoth Iria offers an even more dynamic (admittedly not all that difficult when you’ve only got two prior originals releases) and conceptually centered take on black metal, where each song fills a different role on the album for the soundest possible outcome.
From the menacing chug of “Tyrants” through the Iron Maiden-style, lead-filled “The Red Crown Turns Black” to the epic heavy metal of “The Mantis”, no two songs are alike, each as strong and memorable as the others.
While the history of the group, even perhaps the history of Greek black metal, is embedded into the code of Mutilator and his songwriting, As The Flame Withers takes liberties with those histories, with a wider general range of influences and especially an even stronger heavy metal edge, and is all the better for it. Not a record to be passed by.
PI$$ER – Carved Up For Yuks
Pi$$er‘s been around for a few years, but its members are no newcomers to this scene or the next. Featuring, among others, current and former members of Sore Throat, Doom, Anti-Cimex and English Dogs, I must admit I still had not heard of them before Carved Up for Yuks.
And what a weird way to familiarize yourself with a band it is, being a remix album. Now, given how much I love Pax Americana‘s Paskat Talteen, I ought to be head over heels for Pi$$er’s brand of D-beat, heavily centered on saxophone, but I doubt I’ll be checking the spine of their discography out.
Because I know it won’t be Carved Up for Yuks. Because it won’t be maddeningly looped and cut up industrial madness and d-beat with mutilated sax riffs, interspersed with good ‘ole dub.
An addictive (and a bit disturbing) record.