Mini-Reviews from Around the Bowl: 03/01/18

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Happy Murky March. Time, what is time? I don’t know, but here’s some Taphos, Slugdge, Your End, Horizon Ablaze, Street Sects, Abyssal Vacuum, Heikki Hautala & Hyvät Veljet, Death TripEternal Dirge and Public Memory.

Taphos – Demo MMXVI & 7″ EP MMXVI
Blood Harvest | April 6th, 2018 (and also now)

The details of this release are confusing, or just too convoluted. It collects the Danish band’s four-song demo and two-song EP in one place, on CD. Both are already available separately for digital download on the band’s Bandcamp page. Or you can download them all in one package at the Blood Harvest Bandcamp page. But if you want the super swank CD, you have to pre-order it from the latter. *Diffuse shrug* Let’s cut through the bullshit, yeah? If you came here looking for anything other than a smorgasbord of grave-robbing death metal riffs, you are quite fucked. If, on the other hand, you came here for hoary, hairy riffs and nothing more, fortune has smiled upon thee. Taphos did not bring anything other than an ichor-crusted nostalgia boner to the party, but when the boner is this hard you’d be a fool to complain. They’ve got a debut full-length in the works; I have no doubt that it will deliver more of the same. – Richter.


Slugdge Esoteric Malagology
Willowtip Records | March 2nd, 2017

IT IS TIME ONCE AGAIN TO PRAISE MOLLUSCA. The hour of the Slugdge is nigh, and the song it sings is more refined and infectious than it ever was. Once you get a few good chuckles from reading the song titles (“Transilvanian Fungus” is my favorite), you can let yourself be drenched in slime and the thick, enveloping fumes that emanate from it. Heavy, galloped-yet-arpeggiated passages which test the urge to headbang with unapologetic satisfaction are found throughout these 8 tracks, which run mostly beyond the 7 minute mark but don’t feel forced; they flow alternating crushing riffs with clean, melodic sections and remain interesting until the very end. Another fine addition to your Mollusca Worship playlist. – Moshito.


Your End – Ghost Architecture
Independent | February 23rd, 2018

The word “misanthropic” gets tossed around a lot with regards to extreme metal, but rarely do you encounter a band that sounds like they want to crawl out of your speakers and kill you as much as Your End does. They’re cut from the same twisted cloth as Portal and early Grave Upheaval, playing a combination of psychotic death metal and crushing doom. The difference here is that their sound is more concrete; it’s less a thorny tangle of of hideous noise, with a riff-driven approach that focuses on being as heavy as possible at any given moment. Ghost Architecture is intense, to say the least, and very much worth a listen if you’re into this brand of death-doom. – Spear.


Horizon Ablaze The Weight of a Thousand Suns
Leviathan/Diger | February 16th, 2018

The Weight of a Thousand Suns stumbles a bit at the start, as it sounds like the band can’t quite decide whether they want to play melodic black metal or proggy death metal. Fortunately, they get it all sorted out by track three, when the two styles mesh perfectly together and stay that way for the rest of the album. They flow between big, airy chords and punchy death metal riffs that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Keith Merrow album. It’s replete with little touches of dissonance and tense chords, but it’s much prettier than you might expect from that description. Some quieter segments that sound like they’re straight off of Blood Mountain don’t hurt, either. All in all it’s a pleasant journey, one that I see myself making a few more times in the future. – Spear.


Street Sects – Things Will Be Better in Hell
Artoffact Records | February 9th, 2018

If industrial noise-wave duo Street Sects ever decide to go full-on synth pop, this little two-track 7″ EP is all the evidence you need that they will absolutely fucking crush it. Comments from the band regarding the more “accessible” sound of the previous EP have hinted that, moving forward, they intend to return to the harsh and spastic direction of their debut LP. In that light, Things Will Be Better in Hell, with its uncluttered programming and well-nigh saccharine levels of sweet, sweet melody, almost comes off like a sick joke. Some of these infectious samples and vocal tunes would not be out of place on a glitzy R&B record. Even so, we’ll always have Ashline’s sprightly lyrics to kick us back into the gutter: “Put one in my head, I want you to,” “Maybe when we’re dead we’ll get respect,” “It’s just 40 bucks, no one could kill themselves on that,” etc., etc. Oh hey, and the band has another little mini-release coming out tomorrow. Joy. – Richter.


Abyssal Vacuum – MMXVII
Solar Asceticists Productions | January 22nd, 2018

Definitely my favourite release of the year thus far, this debut EP of entrancing subterranean psychopathy was penned by a lone Frenchman, and subsequently seems even more intriguing knowing as such. The psyche-piercing screeches which echo as they scrape across the undulating bass substrate are undoubtedly the most striking feature of these three tracks, however repeat listens allow deeper immersion into the beyond within. The vocals recall the oppressive chasmic bellows of another one-man act in that of Abyssal, and are thankfully laid sparsely enough to not drown out the music’s own inherent intensity. Over a month later, and that replay button is still stuck on, don’t miss this. FFO: Skáphe/Chaos Moon, Lunar Mantra, Xothist (but recorded outside of a scaled kettle). – Lacertillian.


Heikki Hautala & Hyvät Veljet – Rauha ja Harmonia
Ektro / Future Lunch | January 19th, 2018

After spinning around the punk circles with Sokea Piste and making every socially-conscious punks obligatory move into acoustic solo stuff, Heikki Hautala returns with a new, electrified but very somber and slow-moving band. Country and folk shake hands while the drawn out guitar sneaks in some blues. It’s a comforting combination and with Hautala’s gorgeous vocals it could be your favourite sunday morning cuddle record, if the lyrics weren’t about the human condition. “Vakio” is my current best “song to stare at the wall in an unlit room” as of today. – Karhu.


Death Trip – Madhouse
Ektro | December 6th, 2017

Where the maddening drive of The Stooges meets the hazy, hypnotic pulse of Hawkwind, lies Death Trip. After functioning for thirty good years, it’s about damn time for a full-length. Madhouse gathers together five intoxicating anthems of agonizing perversion. The opener, and personal favourite, “Scream, Baby, Scream!” trudges with a simple riff and endless loop of synthesized bloops on top, while Läjä Latex screams in sadistic torment. Elsewhere, “Blood, Blood, Blood” dooms on like Iommi on his better days, only more rotten and deranged. “Impurities”, like drumsticks striking together, being left audible only add to the ferocious atmosphere of the record. If you’ve ever heard the expression “Better eating this than getting beat up, unless it was a particularly good beating”, this is that particularly good beating. – Karhu.


Eternal Dirge Morbus Ascendit/Demos 1989-1990
Unspeakable Axe Records | September 29th, 2017

I passed on this one pretty quickly back when it came out, but have come back to it a couple of times now and feel like I’ve done it injustice. It’s thrashy death metal from Germany with Lovecraftian themes, and I’m glad to say those aren’t just a decal – this is definitely weird enough to do the subject justice. MA lists Nocturnus as similar artists. My unimaginative mind would’ve gone with something like “a precursor to Vektor“. In any case, I had never heard of this band or had them come up in a Youtube rabbit hole, which leads me to believe Unspeakable Axe has given us another fine example of a re-release for the right reasons, i.e. to shine a light on obscure music that was either ahead of its time or simply got overlooked due to more fortunate acts playing in a similar vein. I’d say this is more of a case of the latter, but should become a bit of a go-to when you’re tired of the 90s’ proggy death metal classics. – Hans.


Public Memory Veil of Counsel
Felte Records | March 17th, 2017

It ain’t metal, that much I know, but I’m not quite sure what it actually is. I’m gonna go with “sorta bummed-out trip hop” (partly because the bassline in “Afterlife” really reminds me of Massive Attack). Synthpop might also work. The coldwave tag, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to do it justice (as if we would no). I think despite the inherent bleakness, it’s too upbeat for that, and the instrumentation isn’t quite sparse enough. Also the vocals manage to find elation too often, seeming to have found some heavenly bliss in all the grey. The overall impression is more one of warmth, albeit warmth felt while looking at the rain through your window. The melody in “Verdict” illustrates this nicely. Good stuff, and Wuthering Drum also comes highly recommended. – Hans.

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