Mini-Reviews from Around the Bowl: 05/11/17
Happy “I thought my sound card broke so I bought a new one only to find out after the fact that the driver was wonky” week. Plug into MRTVI, Sabbath Assembly, At the Drive-In, Acedia Mundi, Inverted Matter, Blood of Angels, Enter Obscurity, Lvx Hæresis, and Seminary.
MRTVI is an experimental project where, at first listen, you’re not quite sure what the hell to make of it. The album title is spot-on however, as sole member Damjan Stefanovic weaves a large amount of noise and obtuse, jazz-like guitar & basslines into chaotic stream-of-consciousness compositions of groove drumming, squealing harmonics and distorted vocals that fade into feedback squeals. Disconnected portions that seem to float along randomly will eventually lock in at the start of a new measure, only to completely fall apart again seconds later. Like his Australian labelmates Norse, the appeal is hearing how these unconventional sounds are put to use in a metal context, but unlike Norse, song structure takes a distant second to pure nauseating chaotic motherfuckery. It’s up to you to decide if this is the next chapter in the outré sound, or if it simply makes no goddamn sense. Either way, it’s an interesting journey. –Cyborg
We may or may not be in the midst of a full-blow occult metal revival, but if there are more bands that sound like Sabbath Assembly’s new album Rites of Passage, then I say, “Bring on the occult metal revival! Cover me in your spooky sounds and eerie grooves!” Jamie Myers’ vocals glide across each song like a dense fog that surrounds the listener. Guitarists Kevin Hufnagel (Dysrythmia, Gorguts) and Ron Varod (Kayo Dot, Psalm Zero, Zvi) mesh well and give the album its edge. Moments of psychedelia and trance-inducing melancholy boost Rites Of Passage well above their occult-inclined contemporaries. This album will make you a fan of the entire genre; that’s how good it is. Light a black candle, pray to the four corners, and bow down to this album. RIYL: Hammers of Misfortune, Occultation, Jess and the Ancient Ones —365.
As a no-time fan of At the Drive-In (more by omission than anything else), I decided to give the former Mars Volta’s art-ernative heroes a chance by checking out their first album in almost two decades. My main reference being “One Armed Scissor“, I was very pleasantly surprised with the stylings on in•ter a•li•a. Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s vocals are nothing if not recognizable, and they pair well with Omar Rodríguez-López’s weird taste in guitar leads; I really like their trademark sound in a more straightforward, less progressive setting. This album is fun to rock out to, and though I can’t rank it alongside the rest of their discography, who cares? —Moshito.
I don’t often describe black metal as gross, but Acedia Mundi’s debut album is downright disgusting in the best possible way. Speculum Humanae Salvationis somehow pulls off the baffling stunt of performing at the technical level of dissonant bands like Zhrine while simultaneously slathering their entire product in a thick coating of blasphemous muck. The tone, production, and vocals all lend the record a deceptively pustulent and slipshod vibe, but the musicianship is bewilderingly precise, constantly shifting from cavalcades of blast beats and tremolo to disarming drudging passages. If you like the unorthodox approach bands like Wolok or Grey Heaven Fall bring to black metal and yearn for the blessing of Papa Nurgle, definitely don’t miss this. —W.
Does the idea of the proficiency of tech death meeting the sloppiness and grit of grindcore arouse your interest? Is your curiosity piqued at the prospect of Krisiun meets Terrorizer? Then pay heed to the juddering, stuttering death metal abomination known as Inverted Matter! Detach features the skinwork of Michael Smith (ex-Suffocation), so you know you’re in for a heaping helping of raucous blasts and monstrous grooves. Most surprising about this record, though, are the oblique left turns some of the tracks take. “Singularity” shows the band dabbling with insidious atmosphere, while “Drake Effect” shows off some gnarly Withered-esque low-end rumbling. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but fans of the aforementioned Brazilians and the older, more gangrenous material of Skinless should check it out. —W.
Do you like Amon Amarth but want the songs about smashing someone’s head open to sound like someone’s head was actually being smashed open? Well, then Rise of the Fallen Gods by Florida’s Blood of Angels is for you. The 3-song EP only clocks in at about 12 minutes, but it packs enough punch to make you go, “Ow, my jaw!” It’s forceful, vicious Melodic Death Metal for those that like to pillage and plunder… or at least those that like to watch pillaging and plundering on the History Channel. Angry growls, blazing guitars, unforgiving drums. Yup, they’re all here and with a dash of viking lore to keep things interesting. —365.
The riffs are simple thrash/first wave BM fare, the production is just barely above demo quality, and the members all have appropriate over the top pseudonyms, most notably bassist/vocalist Jonas Skullcrusher, who sounds like he swallowed a combo of a cup of nails and too much fucking Miller Lite when he screams. There are not one, but two songs with the word POSER in the title, with the word itself being said at least a dozen times throughout the album. Also, seriously drink in that fucking album cover. Despite all these things, or possibly because of them, I fucking love the second (yes second) EP from Norwegian black/speed outfit Enter Obscurity. You very well know what to expect from this, citizens; nearly 20 minutes of wiener crushing blackened speed brutality. If you don’t find the title track in particular to be catchy as a venereal disease, then you need to visit me so I can hand you your poser card before lopping your ears off with my kukri. —Simon Phoenix.
Why am I revisiting a black metal record released way back in March? Simply put, Descensŭs Spīrĭtŭs has thoroughly crawled under my skin and shaken the fibers of my being. By combining a creepy occult atmosphere, throaty vocals more akin to blackened death than the orthodox school, and the precision and mechanical reliability of a Swiss time piece, the elusive trio have crafted a mystical, mid-paced record full of deeply unnerving riffs and seething percussion. This is a band as mysterious and brooding at Schammasch at their most esoteric, as sinister as Abigor, and as punishing as Blood of Kingu. Don’t keep missing this! —W.
Name Your Price Grindcore. Is there a better combination of words? Really stop to think about it for a minute. I dare you to find one, because I’m coming up short. As one TovH community member put it, Seminary sound like “Psyopus doing grind”, which is better than any description I can try and come up with. The songs are short, the riffs are spastic and the slight melodicisms are neat (think Gridlink). At this point you already know if you want to hear this or not, so here’s to me shutting up and you grinding down like the Automnymous being you are. —Moshito.
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.
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