Mini-Reviews from Around the Bowl: 04/12/2019
Intro where I say something tangentially related to something else. Second sentence where I say something else to make the first thing funny. And now, the bands reviewed: Allegaeon, Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult, Wormwitch, Laster, Whitechapel and East of the Wall.
Allegaeon was one of the few bands that kept my dwindling interest in tech death struggling for life, especially the exhilirating Elements of The Infinite still finds it’s way into my player. It’s follow-up, Proponent For Sentience, seemed decisively less “fun”, it’s melodies less commanding and the orchestrations had brought with them the corpulent bloat of a riverbed corpse. While recognizably Allegaeon it lacked practically every reason that had ever made the band good. So it is with incongruous expectations that I go into Apoptosis, and with a grey mass for cover, and a title like that – meaning the death of cells as part of an organism’s development, nothing about this exactly screams “having a good time”. Right off the bat new bassist Brandon Michael gets to show the nimbleness of his fingers, honed in Funky Tim & The Merlots, he continues to make appearances on solos and flourishes throughout the record, remains audible through and through and adds another dimension to the record, one that unfortunately comes sorely needed. Apoptosis isn’t as overwrought as it’s predecessor, the melodies are a more commanding, and omnipresent force than the last time around but Apoptosis is still not record defined by “fun” and while it’s likely as not a conscious decision on the band’s behalf, it still lacks many of the engaging qualities of Allegaeon’s earlier work. On the other hand, it’s not unmemorable, the solo(-tone)s sound better than ever, and “Extremophiles (B)” has a swinging, driving riff that almost captures that essence of the old, which, ironically, was the essence of youth. Being one-note is something Apoptosis cannot be blamed for, the happy “Extremophiles” meets far meaner ones in “Exothermic Chemical Combustion” and the pissed-off, tremolo-laden “Metaphobia” while the album continues to cycle through the moods, getting good mileage out of Riley McShane’s cleans on “Tsunami and Submergence”, but while Apoptosis is much better than it’s predecessor, runner-up means little when your best is still miles and miles ahead. There’s just much too difference between the band I’d like Allegaeon to be, and the band Allegaeon wants to be, for me to really enjoy this album. – Karhu
Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult represents the type of black metal you’d expect the majority of people somewhat in the know to think of, at the mention of the name. That is to say, a very traditional second-wave influenced style largely indebted to the Norwegian masters of the game. Mardom continues firmly on this track offering three-quarters-of-an-hour’s worth of raw but clear-sounding black metal. Six full-lengths into their career with minimal detours could wear a band down, but DNS doesn’t sound tired or uninspired, perhaps it’s the number of years they’ve kept between albums but Mardom is an outright vital (if not a particularly inspiring) record. Though it constantly verges on monotony, but the riffs change up just enough to keep boredom at bay. It helps that the highlights, the violent but also relatively broody “T.O.W.D.A.T.H.A.B.T.E”, punchy “Exaudi Domine” and the particularly lively closer “The Sphere”, as well as some interludes, are scattered throughout the album instead of clogging the front- or back-half. While your enjoyment of the album will be directly dependent on your desire for plainest of second wave worships, but DNS riffs both harder, and more, than a lot of their counterparts. – Karhu
Something that Prosthetic excels at is finding bands that are both extreme and palatable. Wormwitch aren’t really breaking any new ground, making anyone uncomfortable, or appeasing a certain niche. They are playing really solid modern progressive black metal with above average riffs and fantastic production. Wormwitch is not a band I would go out of my way to see (at this point in their career at least) but would be thrilled to see them on any lineup. Is Prosthetic Festival Filler a genre? Anyway, the core riff on “Disciple of the Serpent Star” touches on some modern angular death metal in a really pleasing way. There are some old school solos and folky interludes. I dig it! – Joaquin
It’s Dutch black metal, but it’s a far cry from the style of the Haeresis Noviomagi circle of bands (Lubbert Das, Iskandr, et al) which I’d come to associate with the country. This is the first I’ve heard from Laster, who play a decidedly more avantgarde style that probably warrants a reference to Ved Buens Ende, if only because I can’t think of anyone else using warbly clean vocals like this. They come off a bit more insane at times here, and alternate with a piercing shriek. The rest of the music can be loosely seperated into dynamic and hypnotic parts. The former flit back and forth between accessable rhythms and off-kilter ones, sometimes introducing oddly bouncy sections that add a “nightmare funhouse” kind of vibe. Interlude track “Ondersteboven” has all of that in a nutshell. The hypnotic parts, on the other hand, thrive on repetition, and offer some respite and time to let the dreamlike chaos sink in, but go on a little too long at times. All-out furious black metal bits like the opening of “Haat & Bonhemie” are the absolute exception. Anyone interested in the peculiar fringes of black metal should get on this if they’ve somehow missed the band until now. – Hans
I know that at some point in the last decade I’ve listened to Whitechapel, but I couldn’t mouth a single riff if my life depended on it. I guess this is why The Valley hit me particularly hard; it’s full of memorable riffs, vocal melodies (yes, and they don’t suck!) and killer drum parts. It turns out Navene Koperweis played drums on the album, which explains a lot in the best possible way. The one thing I know some people might find complaints with is the more modern, digital-sounding guitar tone, which leans on the “meh” end of the spectrum. Other than that and a few cheesy lyrics I could make out, this thing’s a real surprise banger. In short: THIS SHIT GOOD. THIS SHIT REAL GOOD. – Moshito
I really wanted to write a longer piece for this album but I am finding it obnoxiously difficult to say much more than “I like these sounds”. I’ve been waiting for a new album from the prog metal dudes in East of the Wall since 2013 when my tastes were more closely aligned with this lighter side of the genre. Not a whole lot has changed from what I can remember, which is great. A little bit of that math-rock style with a touch of sludge and great choruses. It’s far from the most exciting album I’ve heard this year, but it makes for a great break from some noisier stuff so it will see its fair share of spins. “Non-Functional Harmony” is one my top tracks this year so far. – Joaquin
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.