Mini-Reviews From Around the Bowl (10/7/21)
A small collection of snack-sized reviews to tide you over.
Desalmado – Mass Mental Devolution
Gruesome Records | October 8th, 2021
I’ve never been terribly into muscular-sounding metal like Cattle Decap or Dying Fetus. Though bands like this do yeoman’s work as entertainers, their sound embodies a certain male aggression that reminds me of my older cousins when I was younger—they seemed cool at the time, but then you grow up and find out about the DUIs. However, it turns out I have more fun with music in this vein when I know its makers are avowedly antifascist! Brazil’s Desalmado gives you some ferocious, circle-pit deathgrind on Mass Mental Devolution that proudly leans left. If you like Napalm Death and hate Nazis, give this one a go. Songs like “Across the Land” deliver the midtempo chuggy goodness, while songs like “Praise the Lord and Kill the People” will induce the whiplash and crowdkilling for folks seeking more octane. Give “Esmage os Fascistas” (“Crush the Fascists,” fuck yeah) a go and tell me with a straight face you aren’t having fun. The full thing drops via Gruesome Records tomorrow. — Theophrastus Bombastus
Full of Hell – Garden of Burning Apparitions
Relapse Records | October 1st, 2021
I’m putting this tepid, handwringing review in the minis today because I simply don’t know what to do with my feelings about this record. I absolutely love Full of Hell, but this album leaves me cold. Why? Perhaps because, while it’s as noisy as they’ve ever been, it’s way noise-ier than anything they’ve done outside of their splits. Full of Hell makes noisy, grinding death, right? Well, I hear the grind, I hear the noise, but I miss the death. Whether it’s “Industrial Messiah Complex,” which is basically a fuzzed-out version of “Thundering Hammers,” or “Reeking Tunnels,” which has an indie-rock angularity to it, I just can’t find a handhold here.
The more fundamental issue for me as I’ve listened a few times has been the lack of a unifying, grandiose track that adds meaning, depth, and viciousness to what surrounds it. Weeping Choir had “Armory of Obsidian Glass;” the title track on Someone With Tiny Handseting Ecstasy shaves minutes off my life with every listen. But on Garden, everything sort of blurs together.
I’m not mini-reviewing this to be a contrarian, but to start a conversation. I’d love to know what you think—are you into this direction for FoH? Do you like the blend, or do you prefer the bento box? Holler in the comments with your Spicy Takes. — Theophrastus Bombastus
Noutaja – Never Meant to Save Us
Inverse Records | August 20th, 2021
Your chef for this course seems to have a thing for criminally- or at least civilly- underappreciated OSDM acts with catchy hooks and antifascist themes, so he offers to you a steaming saucer of Noutaja, Finnish for “grim reaper”. Call it death metal for expediency’s sake, but this album is in truth a mix with OSDM as its base. Far from LoL sO rAnDoM eclecticism, it really feels that Noutaja just play what they want to play. In among the death metal are thrash, black metal, and pensive acoustic breaks, but it all makes so much sense from a songwriting perspective and flows so well that you have to pay attention to notice the change. This is all brought together with groove, a good sense of melodicism, and non-self-indulgent prog flourishes, complete with a lyrical nod to King Crimson. The last track, “Coils”, is a standout, with great work on every instrument. The variety, cohesion, and fun levels on this album are streets ahead. — Beavis Christ
Aran – Pimeyttä Vasten
Naturmacht Productions | September 3, 2021
Do you like what we’ve come to call trees’n’shit black metal around here? Well it doesn’t get much more trees and less shit than this (you might argue the second part is subjective, but I might argue you’re wrong). Four songs in 45 minutes? Check. Drawn-out synth notes evoking a mood of profound longing? You betcha. Near-unwavering drums that induce a pleasant stupor? They’re on sale today. Although to be fair, the music does slow down often enough to provide sufficient variety. And in moments where the synths take center stage, such as on the third track, they go for slightly more engaging (if still minimal) melodies. That’s something I could stand to hear more of. All in all, there’s nothing here that will blow the socks off of seasoned veterans, but it’s very nice, moody comfort food for the season. Highlight: “Uusi Aamu.” — Hans
Prophetic Scourge falls under the umbrella of bands I’d call “tech death for people who don’t like tech death,” more spiritually akin to something like Cryptopsy than Necrophagist. Not really sonically similar to the aforementioned act, but the sledgehammer attack of their music is aggressive enough that the virtuosity of it might slip your notice. How sneaky. The band alternates between spinning you around blinding melodies and bludgeoning you with chunky death metal riffs, embellishing it all with some fantastic leads and just enough weedlies to make you sit up and take notice when they hit. Just be ready to be in it for the long haul; these are some girthy songs, with the closing track passing the 16-minute mark. The ideas are diverse and interesting enough to keep it moving, thankfully, so it never feels like a slog. If bands like Deformatory and Demiurgon are up your alley, you’ll want to put this one in your listening queue ASAP. — Spear