Mini-Reviews from Around the Bowl: 1/9/20
Tiny, delicious reviews for easy consumption.
Gorebringer – A Craving for Flesh
Gate of the Silver Key | August 15, 2019
I’ve listened to just enough melodic death to recognize this as a proponent of the classic style (At The Gates came to mind right away), but not enough to tell if it’s just a rote execution of genre tropes. What I can say is it’s pretty damn intense; the dual vocal approach, the guitar solos, and the high tempo are executed well, but can get a bit taxing when they all coincide. It takes them until the fifth track for things to slow down a bit and become more easily discernibe, which is most welcome. Give it a go if you’re into that Gothenburg sound. Also, the closing instrumental track focken bangs. – Hans
Lichmagick – Lichmagick
Tempest Tome Tapes | August 9, 2019
The Bandcamp comments on this thing are monumentally stupid, although I will admit that listening to it makes me want to use all sorts of profanity, too – in a good way. It’s another excellent example of that mix (you know, THAT mix) where you put black metal’s lo-fi sound and satanic shtick into a blender with blackened thrash attitude and pour the resulting smoothie over a punk band. Maybe garnish with a sprinkle of blast beat. Listening may cause a candelabra to materialize in your hand and make all your clothes smell like rot. Don’t panic; just shun the light from now on and wear sunglasses everywhere. – Hans
The Night Watch – An Embarrassment of Riches
Anamnesis | November 15th, 2019
The beginning of An Embarrassment of Riches sounds like it is constantly on the precipice of turning into swashbuckling metal bullshit, but thankfully this brilliant band has the ability to right the ship (goddamnit) and delve into more interesting realms. As much as an “instrumental” piece can, this thing tells a grand tale using virtuosically evocative violin playing backed by progressive-metal-oriented guitar, bass, and drums. This album covers the full range from contemplative atmospherics to cathartic explosions. It’s really really long, but the variety and dynamic range ensure it never overstays its welcome. – Joaquin
Arkona – Age of Capricorn
Debemur Morti | December 13, 2019
[This takes place at a black metal bar. Idk why. Just go with it.]
Me: What do you have on tap?
Bartender: I’ve got one on special. Pretty good. An Arkona schwarzbier-style from Poland.
Me: Yeah? What’s it like?
Bartender: Well, pretty much like Marduk, Dark Funeral, early 1349, that kind of thing. Lots of blast beats. Really aggressive. Tight musicianship.
Me: Sounds decent. Wait. Did you say Poland? Is it fascist?
Bartender: Not that I know of. But I’ll let you know if I find anything.
Me: Ok, cool. I’ll have one of those.
– Black Metal Porkins
Cro-Mags – From the Grave
Arising Empire | December 6th, 2019
After Harley Flanagan saw a vision of Lemmy, in a dream, telling him to “Take it back, mate. It’s yours,” referring to the legendary hardcore/crossover band Cro-Mags, a version of which features Quarrel-age drummer Mackie and vocalist John Joseph. He changed the name of his solo band to Cro-Mags, released a six-minute EP Don’t Give In on Victory Records of all places, and finally managed to wrestle the rights to the name from the other group (that now performs as Cro-Mags JM). Not being a man to rest on his laurels, it was a matter of mere months before the foursome, also featuring Rocky George from the crossover legends Suicidal Tendencies, had readied another EP almost twice the length of the last one. Heavily reliant on that guitar tone, all the solos you could ever hope from George and some from Phil Campbell of Motörhead (because of course) on the opening track, and Harley’s violent delivery, Don’t Give In highlighted Cro-Mags’ punkiest side. From the Grave could essentially be a second set of songs from the same sessions, except for the last song “Between Wars,” taking up over half of the EP’s length. It’s a moody instrumental piece that drummer G-Man Sullivan keeps afloat with more fills than steady beats, while Abularach and George weave their guitar lines together under “Lamont” Cooper’s cello, in the only song that actually gives some room for both guitarists. Little, but still. So recommended if you like straightforward, simple, heavy, and maybe somewhat metallic hardcore punk with a side-dish of sulky. Or are a Cro-Mags completionist. – KARHU
Burning Shadows – Beneath the Ruins
Independent | December 6th, 2019
Are you into meaty, melodic but not flowery power metal with burly-ass vocals? Then you should have checked Burning Shadows’ 2017 full length Truth in Legend. And if you didn’t, you have chance to tackle their brand new EP, Beneath the Ruins, first. I’d advice against doing things in this order, but you have that chance, should you so choose. That’s not to say that it’s a bad record – it’s not. It’s just a step down on practically all fronts, starting with the loud mix that places the quickly sampled-sounding drums and Tom Davy’s vocals on top of everything else. This obscures the already less-memorable guitarwork, featuring far fewer and less-distinctive melodies. This would at least partially be mended if Davy didn’t sound rougher than before – as in every time he “roughens up” his voice, he sounds like it’s on the verge breaking instead of tough. Though I’m going to go ahead and blame that chiefly on the vocal production this time around, considering he doesn’t show any signs of struggling elsewhere. The best, and only real standouts apart from “The Shadow from the Steeple’s” spoke-word-mixed-with-guitar-leads section, and possibly it’s climax, for these five new songs are the solos while the two live recordings tacked at the end are actually pretty good and showcase their more memorable songwriting. While far from a bad record, it’s a little difficult to conjure up much good to say about it – and mostly because I can’t stop thinking of all the times I spun Truth in Legend and how good it was. Maybe time will prove kinder to Beneath the Ruins, in the meantime, jam Truth in Legend with me. – KARHU
Nylithia – Goddamn Type 1
Independent | December 19th, 2019
There is no band like Nylithia. Their self-ascribed hyperthrash label and “fast all the time” credo might suggest a certain sound, but I can guarantee that unless you’re already familiar with the band, you haven’t heard anything quite like them. Goddamn Type 1 has all the parts that made their 2015 album special, but everything’s been stepped up. The instruments are still in constant motion, a perpetual 16th-note tremolo attack; the grooves are still as bouncy and upbeat as ever; and the lyrics are more down-to-earth and personal, shedding some light on what the band’s been through the past few years. The guitar work is technical and fast, but catchy as hell; hooks abound on this album, and any one part can worm its way into your brain and stay there for days. Nylithia may be gone for the foreseeable future, but if this is truly their swansong, it’s a hell of a way to go out. – Spear