Mini-Reviews from Around the Bowl: 05/10/18
Mini Reviews? Again??!!? How are you so lucky, you may ask? Let all these bands answer that for you: Mick Gordon, Hexeth, Midas Fall, Profane Order, Grave Upheaval, Wrekmeister Harmonies, Order ov Riven Cathedrals and Coram Lethe.
Chances are good that even if you’ve been living under a rock, you’re well aware of how much demon booty Bethesda‘s latest entry in the storied shooter series rips and tears. 2016’s edition of DOOM was a full-throttle hell-ride of blood and viscera and so much spent ammunition you could make enough bullet belts to satisfy metal nerds until the end of time. While there was much hullabaloo at the time of release about the metal nature of the game’s soundtrack, silly naysayers were quick to cluck their tongues about the djent nature of certain tracks. Well, those naysayers can keep clucking their tongues while writing Undertale fanfiction and listening to the boring Opeth records, because the full soundtrack for DOOM goes hard. So hard, in fact, that Leif Bearikson spent a year deadlifting Mancubi while listening to nothing but this soundtrack. While there are some djent moments and rhythmic tomfoolery to be found, the majority of Mick Gordon’s soundtrack is more properly thought of as an industrial metal roller coaster reminiscent of Trent Reznor’s Quake soundtrack. The ragged, malfunctioning machine cadence of “Flesh & Metal” could easily have been a B-side from Broken, and there’s more than enough of this aggression (and spooky narration) across the soundtrack’s 2+ hour run-time to overlook the more onerous djenty elements. And now you can finally buy the soundtrack on physical media, you cheap bastard. – W
If I told you that the deranged mind that brought you Shezmu‘s The Scent of War and Pénombre‘s Méphistophélès (ou le Diable sur Terre) had dreamed an occult mythology of insatiable bloodlust and tentacled horror and then birthed that abomination inside a cave that reeked distinctly of Vessel of Iniquity and Grave Upheaval, would you consume the monstrous placenta of that unspeakable grotesquerie and open your third eye? Yes, you would, because you’re a pervert who likes extreme metal and cavernous riffs and haunting atmospheres. Hexeth is by no means the most original entry in the grimoire of cavernous death metal, but its trim run-time and surprisingly catchy riffs (if you can discern them amid the strata of noise) will certainly quench your thirst for murk until your next Portal or Impetuous Ritual feeding. – W
Post-rock is basically the opposite of my field of expertise, so feel free to take all of this with a grain of salt; that said, I know what I like, and I think I like this? I’m pretty sure I like this. I guess I don’t know what I like. Anyway, Midas Fall plays a stripped down style of post-rock that borders on pure soundscape at times, layering synths and electronic percussion with reverb-laden guitar and vocals. It’s hauntingly beautiful, and each song conjures all manner of emotions, but I found the electronic beats distracting at times. It wasn’t an issue for most of the album, but there were points (particularly on the title track) where it pulled me out of an otherwise enrapturing atmosphere. When it works, it works, though. I don’t know if I’ll be coming back to this myself anytime soon, but if you’re looking to lose yourself in some pretty soundscapes, then Evaporate is what you need. – Spear
As a savvy consumer whore of the most vile and vitriolic extreme metal around, you’re well aware that Loic LF’s label Krucyator Productions is the best place on the net to find steamroller riffs that will leave your ass as flat as mine. Profane Order‘s Tightened Noose of Sanctimony, a previously-released EP now packaged with the band’s earlier material from Marked by Malice, is certainly no exception. Jam packed with some of the most heinous blast beats, deranged solos, and animistic growls you’ll hear this side of the Atlantic, Tightened Noose is an unrepentant ripper of fast beats, faster riffs, and full-on aggro war metal. As Loic himself opined, this record is “uncompromising, crude, morbid.” If you like Revenge or Rites of Thy Degringolade, what more could you possibly want? – W.
There are two sides to Grave Upheaval: there’s the beefy downtuned death metal side we heard on the demo and splits, and there’s the cavernous, hazy sound of the first full length. I enjoy both, but the latter felt a little too much like Impetuous Ritual (which makes sense, as they’re basically the same band). Untitled II/2018/whatever meets the two in the middle, drawing a pretty even split between evil atmospheric stuff and clearly-defined riffs. There’s more variation in the vocals this time around, too, featuring some chanting and hissed high screams along with the expected deep growls. It’s the best of both worlds; just don’t expect it to be an easy listen. Since NWN refuses to put their albums on Bandcamp for some reason, you can check it out at Cvlt Nation. – Spear
Over the past several years, Wrekmeister Harmonies has steadily earned a reputation as a reliably quality musical bridge between the fine art world and a particularly terrifying form of Neurosis-informed post metal. Early releases would patiently drone for a half hour before exploding into an absolutely terrifying cacophony, almost like if Swans gave even less of a fuck about harshing your mellow across the time span of a feature film. The collective’s newest album, The Alone Rush, continues the trajectory for their artistic direction set by 2016’s Light Falls, wherein record-dominating 30+ minute pieces are replaced with several shorter songs, each with a dynamic world of all their own. The benefit to this method goes beyond making the records more approachable listening material – while early releases needed to stick to the utter extremes of unnerving atmosphere and horrifying, thunderous howls in order to keep a 45 minute piece of music compelling, shorter run times make for a more natural space to explore the breadth and depth of the murky gray area along the spectrum between those two extremes. If 2013’s You’ve Always Meant So Much To Me was a narration of inescapable, apocalyptic cosmic horror, The Alone Rush is the sound of Nick Cave‘s ghost paddling the raft on your spirit quest through the bleak yet fantastical landscape leftover from that apocalypse. This is highly recommended listening if you want to get somber without getting too bummed. – HessianHunter
Order ov Riven Cathedrals – Göbekli Tepe
Independent | March 22nd, 2018
Order ov Riven Cathedrals is probably best described as the junction between Hideous Divinity and Anaal Nathrakh. They have the former’s low-tuned tech-ish riffing at full Italian speed and the latter’s pseudo-industrial, pseudo-orchestral feeling and tendency to repeat the same three ideas for an entire album. To be fair, they’re all good ideas, but some variety is necessary with this type of music; shock and awe can only get you so far. Unfortunately, every time it sounds like the band is about to do something new, they just go back to the same 280 BPM blasting and tremolo riff that came before it. If you want the full Göbekli Tepe experience but are short on time, just listen to “Wrath ov a Photon God” (the only song that even attempts to do anything different) and then skip randomly around the rest of the album for a minute or two. You’ll waste much less time this way. Also, they totally stole their album art from Prometheus. Solid work all around, guys. – Spear
The cover art for In Absence might lead you to believe it contains meatheaded, buzzsaw-toned death metal, but don’t be fooled; Coram Lethe are a prog death band. In staying true to that cover, though, they’re a cut nastier than a lot of other contemporary progressive death metal acts. The gritty tone and chunky riffs are complemented by a raw, throaty scream from the frontman and frenetic drumming. They vacillate between pugilistic death metal and some surprisingly melodic moments with grooving drums and tasteful lead guitar. It’s an all around good time that gives you all the prog without any of the fluff. – Spear