Mini-Reviews From Around The Bowl: 05/26/2016
We all know that those smaller beer cans they try and pass off at some events these days are a blatant joke. Sliders? Clearly just a brash corporate plan to give you 1/3rd of the food for the same price as a regular burger. And those mini-versions of our favourite chocolate bars are a total fucking farce. Everything is turning to shit. Smaller and smaller pellets of poop. I bet whatever that dude’s name is who postulated Moore’s law didn’t realise that in doing so, he also exponentially fucked up all of our most important food groups and chances of a thrilling childhood obesity diagnosis. One thing that seems to have worked in our favour though is the miniaturisation of reviews. Nobody wants to read a bloated diatribe about food, mathematics and diabetes. They just want their damn mini-reviews!
There’s nary a headbang to be found here, but if you’re in the mood for some lo-fi 80s darkwave that sounds like it was self-released on a dusty cassette tape from 1987, check out this release from Austin’s Troller. Adopting a Chicago industrial sound similar to Lead Into Gold or Alluring Eve, the songs here embody what darkwave should be: softly brooding minor keys, sparse drum machine beats and delicate vocals. This isn’t a throwback for throwback’s sake however, as each track seems to want to give way to something darker and more sinister, like a colorful mural painted over a wall riddled with bullet holes. “They Body” in particular utilizes a grinding Sunn O))) guitar drone as the background for bright synthwave raindrops to echo out a simple and bright melody. “Storm Maker” seems ripped straight out of a lost Twin Peaks slow-mo sequence, lulling the audience with sweet vocal tones before Cooper spaces out and reveals another piece of the mindfuck puzzle. Ambient tracks “Hellscape” and “Dryld” further keep the listener at a safe distance from pure pop melodies by employing soundscapes as dark and unsettling as anything from Icelandic black metallers these days. — CyBro.
Ambiguity abounds with Above Aurora‘s debut album. The initial moments of Onwards Desolation‘s first track had me repeatedly re-evaluating in which direction the song would head. Atmospheric? Doomy-Post Metal? Blackened death? This unsurety continued until around the 3 minute mark, when a riff reminiscent of those found on Mgła‘s universally acclaimed 2015 album arose; simultaneously settling the debate and securing my interest. Something the album managed to keep quite well for the remaining 30 odd minutes. I later discovered that the band are also from Poland, further confirming my idiot savant status. The band display an interesting set of dynamics throughout the six tracks. The curious third song “Descending” has quite an inquisitive sentiment attached to its refrains, while the very next track “Eradication Of Light” shows a more definite set of boundaries, with the lines drawn darkly around both hypnotic dissonance and doomy atmosphere, in a similar way to how Zhrine‘s masterpiece from earlier in the year felt. The disciplined roars of the vocalist are supplemented with some odd spoken word samples. This is an impressive debut that has the potential for wide-appeal, and I expect it to strike a chord with many. — Lacertilian.
Vancouver, British Columbia is known for many things: Beautiful landscapes, prime filming locations, and dank smokeables. It’s also the home of Strapping Young Lad, 3 Inches Of Blood, and Skinny Puppy. The surroundings may be serene, but there is an angry underbelly. Just look at what happens when the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup in 1994 and again in 2011. No Fun City is also home to Without Mercy whose brand of metal comes off like a sucker-punch to the chest. There are chugs, breakdowns, and double-bass aplenty on this 4-song EP which also features guest vocals by ex-Chimaira vocalist Mark Hunter. The lyrics leave a lot to be desired with douche-chillers such as “You smell like a bitch” and “No longer feel it ignore, the fucking pain you must endure”. If you like straight-forward, aggressive, meat-and-mosh-potatoes metal, Without Mercy is for you. RIYL: Lamb Of God, Decapitated, Chimaira. — 365 Days Of Horror.
Not being the hugest Katatonia fan in the universe, I enjoyed 2012’s Dead End Kings enough to go back and pay their older releases a fresh listen or two. Full disclosure: I like The Fall of Hearts; it still makes me want to draw the blinds and sob like a gothboi because Tracy who sits next to me in Algebra II won’t even look at me, but it’s a bit long and repetitive. Album closer “Passer” is everything that’s right with this album: amazing drumming, heavy/melodic and slightly weedily riffs, atmospheric synths and Jonas Renske‘s familiar lament; when Katatonia’s on, they’re amazing at what they do. Not that the rest of the album is bad by any stretch, it just seems to be missing a little oomph some of the time. If you’ve liked the band’s last few albums, there’s no reason this one shouldn’t strike your fancy. Listen here and grab it here. — Moshito
Your sitting at your local stop-n-go, spending a gloriously sunny summer day outside with your mates. Not a care in the world, “livin”. Then you realize you are missing a key ingredient that would make your day extraordinarily groovy. Tunes. As if some higher being heard your call, a van pulls up and parks. As the doors open and the smoke clears, Brutus stands before you. Clad in denim jackets and trucker hats they make a quick pit stop inside, return with a kind nod and ask you and your buddies, “Wanna hear some jams man? We have a new album out, you know?” And so commences 45 minutes of Rock and Roll. A perfect blend of 1970’s swagger and fuzz. Tales of sadness and despair that make you weep, followed by stories of killers that heat your blood all wrapped in a blanket of ZZ Top, James Gang and Blue Cheer adoration. As the amps fizzle off and the cymbals ring out and fade away, you look at your friends and exclaim, “Best summer ever.” FFO: Kadavar, La Chinga, Dazed & Confused. — Boss the Ross.
Grounding – Reefer Sadness
Independent | May 4th, 2016
Wafting out of Vancouver, British Columbia (not surprised) is 5-piece psychedelic doom outfit Grounding. After taking just one toke of their heavy tincture-soaked offering, I was blown away. This is an outstanding debut that starts deep in fertile soil and heads skyward towards the cosmic void in a most transcendent manner. Almost completely instrumental and running at just over an hour, Reefer Madness manages to avoid both mesmerising the consumer into a sleepy trance during its more serene moments, and drowning the listener out with that common relentless wall-of-sound approach that usually leaves little room for breath. Imagine a combination of the almighty Bongripper and the more relaxed passages of Remission-era Mastodon, and you’re starting to get close to the hybrid strain Grounding have chopped up here. While track titles such as “Marijuanathon” and “Fuck Face” might seem like the most interesting place to start, I whole-heartedly recommend checking out track 4 “There Is A Place In Space” first. This album is the most potent nug you’ll ever get for $1. — Lacertilian.
Ancst won me over last year with their excellent split with Ast, purveying an exciting blend of crust and black metal brimming with righteous fury. That furor burns even brighter on Moloch. The band sounds more pissed off than ever before, and they wield that anger through high-speed anthems and creeping dirges. The throat-tearing howls their vocalist spews forth convey the underlying feeling of each song perfectly, from the raging “Behold Thy Servants” to the melancholy “Human Hive” and the sinister crawl of closer “Lys.” There’s a lot of variety on this record, and it all rips. Above all else, Moloch is just plain fun. – Spear
As proof that you should listen to everything mentioned on this website, I submit Stone Healer, which had a song on the Dewar PR playlist post back in April. The song on the playlist caught my attention out of the massive collection, and it turns out that I liked the three other songs even more than the one they included! This incredible one-man progressive death metal project out of Connecticut has the perfect balance between the progressive and death. The four songs on this debut are extremely varied, but the closing song, Lark’s Head, will surely kick your ass. Seriously, just wait for that chorus. Three of the songs are over 8 minutes, with one shorty that is like a nice ballad with fitting female vocals to give you a break from the aggression. I friggin’ love this album, please support this man so he can feed me more of these tunes. — Joaquin Stick.
This Chilean black metal band lies somewhere between the atmospheric black and the cultish black metals. It’s beautiful yet oddly aggressive and cryptic. This is relevant again because after almost a year and a half, Testimonia is finally being released on vinyl, which can be ordered here. There’s some Deathspell Omega weirdness going on, there’s plenty of speedy blasting, but best of all, there’s just some amazing melodic guitar work standing triumphant over the tremolo. I don’t think I am doing it justice with words, but if you like weird black metal, you will like Animus Mortis. — Joaquin Stick.