Mini-Reviews from Around the Bowl: 08/30/2019
Hey it’s me, I’m back even though I haven’t written anything because I’m trash. You know what isn’t trash though? Alarmist, Denial of God, Gloryhammer, Rancorous, Witchcult and Crush the Altar.
Hit me up with one more squonch of that future prog, my drude. I am groffing so hard on those bleps and broops, jazzed up drumslams, and don’t get me started on the chromepostry. Somehow it’s like a body chill and a mind high all at once; so far in da cowch that my third eye is all the way across the nerbulan. This ain’t your grandmers jazzo, I’ll tell you that much. It has a slith of that beachgoer’s vibe with neeks of noir sleaziness. This is one of the most fun instrumental albums I have heard in a long time. Please listen (clap). – Joaquin
Two albums in 28 years is less than a little for a band that hasn’t enjoyed holidays in the sun, but unlike most bands who claim a history of such size, Denial of God has remained somewhat active throughout this time. Before and between the two records, these Danes put out a smattering of singles, EPs and demos, but ever since their 2012 sophomore there have been no new notches in their discography. Seeking to rectify the wait with a new album, Denial of God is preparing their fans for this gargantuan feat by releasing The Shapeless Mass EP beforehand. The only de facto new original song here is the opening title track, which consists of familiar riffs—mighty and raw, but melodic-in-an-80’s-way black metal, strong in atmosphere and variation. Following this track is a re-recording of “The Statues Are Watching” from the band’s first label-release of the same title, the most noticeable difference between the two versions being the clearer production on the newer track; though more waspish than the original, the song serves to exhibit just how strong and clear the band’s vision was from the beginning. Rounding out the EP are two cover songs: a casual, workmanlike rendition of Bathory’s “Call From the Grave,” and a more surprising choice in the psych/folk/calypso of Exuma’s “Mama Loi, Papa Loi“, which turns out to have the makings of an excellent metal song in it. The Shapeless Mass offers little new, but serves to alleviate worries that the lengthy gap between releases has weakened the band’s resolve. Not happy, these Danes, and that makes me satisfied. – Karhu
Rather than a heartfelt, earnest parody of a beloved genre, Gloryhammer has always come off as a ham-fisted, heavy-handed attempt at cheap laughs. The Big Bang Theory of power metal, as I once heard it called. “Look, we play power metal *cue laugh track* We sing about fantasy. Like Rhapsody. A power metal band *laugh track.* Look, it’s our neighbour. She doesn’t know any power metal. Do you like my armour? *laugh track* Why are you wearing armour? It’s power metal. *laugh track*” But they’ve also made up for some of it with consistently good songwriting. Legends of a Name Far Too Long to Actually Be Bothered to Type This Shite doesn’t change the formula one bit, to both its advantage and detriment. It’s melodic euro-power with a heavy emphasis on keyboard symphonics and chorus-centric vocal hooks through and through, but there’s enough diversity between the mid-tempo stomp of “Masters of Galaxy” or the band’s title track and the tremolo-riffing, double-bass beating bravado of “Land of Unicorns” to keep the album fairly fresh right until the 12-minute closer. The thing is, Gloryhammer never sounds like they make the songwriting choices they do because they want to, but because they have tropes to follow and these tropes, the stereotypes of power metal, dictate their writing at any given time, which leaves them consistent but never truly amazing. Their music isn’t given free reign to become as cheesy and ridiculous as it needs to be in order to pull off their supposedly-hilarious-but-really-just-tiring concept. Then again, when your entire life’s work has been to do to music what cheap sitcoms did to television, you can’t expect to hit any higher. Listen to the new ShadowStrike instead. – Karhu
Disclaimer: the “sitcom-script” was crudely stolen from MK, I’d be happy to compensate for the theft of your intellectual property, should the need arise. JT has my number.
Rancorous – Stealth Dominion
Independent | May 25th, 2019
Do you love the unhinged old school death thrash vibe of Noisem‘s debut? Rancorous is for you! Thrash riffs expertly delivered in a wonderfully dirty, crunchy guitar tone and interspersed with solos that pierce through the muck like spikes. Rasping death metal vocals hark back to the earliest days of the genre. All of this is poured into songwriting creative enough to not merely hold your attention but actually get you moving with some catchy hooks. I was halfway through the EP when I decided this needed a review, and subsequent spins have only made me want to make you listen to this more. – Hans
Do you love love the murky, frenetic riffing chaos of early Immortal, particularly Battles in the North? Witchcult is for you! Their sound perfectly recaptures that feeling of being trapped in a blazing snowstorm—minus the sloppy playing. Added to that are some super satanic samples and appropriately icy vocals. The music may not have as much of an individual note as Immortal’s, but it’s still a far cry from generic. Plus, as opposed to the formless walls of black metal noise I usually enjoy where it’s more about atmosphere than songwriting, these dudes lay down some catchy riffs and even choruses amidst the frosty helter-skelter they conjure up in the name of the horned one. – Hans
Do you love the thrash and death metal of the years around 1990? Seems like nobody doesn’t, so Crush the Altar is for everyone! Particularly those of you wondering why there seem to be only a few thrash bands taking a page out of the Sepultura Beneath the Remains/Arise playbook, and too many death metal bands choosing Death over Morbid Angel. This is one of the cases where the list of influences rattled off in the press text is very accurate, and one of those cases where I can find nothing wrong with a little idol worship. Which is not to say CTA don’t manage to put their own twist on their golden age melange. Just listen for yourself. – Hans
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.