Mini-Reviews from Around the Bowl: 10/20/2016
No matter how long I’m away, the small things come back to haunt me. Stuff your face full of Steel Hook Prostheses, Wormrot, Spectral Voice, Phrenelith, Urzeit, Allegaeon, Hammerhands, Abigail, Palehorse, Giants and Aenaon.
Calm Morbidity, the 10th album from Texas-based death industrial duo Steel Hook Prostheses, is a raw and disturbing look at the dark, twisted emotions of the self. Atmospherics and drones swirl around bursts of rage and frustration. The songs wrap around the listener and squeeze like a robotic python, choking the air out of your lungs and dulling your senses. While some electronic acts barrage you with sound, Calm Morbidity drags you down like weights tied to your legs. There is a odd beauty in the terror that Steel Hook Prostheses creates. Perhaps this is the sound of inevitability and impermanence we all hear before the lights permanently go out. RIYL: Gnaw Their Tongues, The Vomit Arsonist, Xiphoid Dementia. –365.
After four years or so of relative silence (and an almost-breakup), Singapore’s #1 exporters of grind are back in business, and boy is business busy. It looks like the time out of the underground spotlight really gave vocalist Arif and guitarist Rasyid time to refine their respective abilities, as well as to get tight with new powerhouse drummer Vijesh. Wormrot’s third LP, Voices, is everything I wanted and expected from the band… with a twist. The songs generally seem better structured and are much more interesting, and as a result the record is very solid and less sloppy-sounding. Some might see this as a bad thing coming from a grind band, but all of these elements (especially the Nasum and Converge-evoking melody-infused riffs) make for a very serious contender for my own AOTY list. Get it here. — Moshito.
Split EPs can truly be a thing of beauty. Two bands of a similar nature writing new songs and throwing them together on a slab of wax so filthy casuals like us can enjoy and possibly even discover new bands. The new split from Spectral Voice and Phrenelith isn’t just a thing of beauty though, it’s a thing of disgust, which is really just it’s own kind of beautiful. At the moment both bands only have demos to their names, but those demos have brought them a lot of attention, and for good reason: They both have great potential to become top-of-the-heap death metal acts. This split may be the first step in realizing that potential. Both of these songs are easily the best ones written by their respective bands. Spectral Voice’s “Peeled Veins” is a much faster number than anything we’ve heard from them before, but still finds a way to slow to the crushing crawl you expect before an absolutely off the rails solo. Phrenelith’s side, “Once Fertile Soil,” is more straightforward if only because it never relents in its crushing pace. This is an absolute must have for fans of either band, and will offer super kvlt bragging rites when they become the next big things in death metal. — Leif.
Urzeit – Anmoksha
Independent | October 10th, 2016
I’m not sure what they’re putting in the water in the pacific northwest these days but it has lead to an outpouring of quality black metal from the region (Weed. It’s probably weed). The latest bit of blackened glory comes from Urzeit, featuring members of acts such as Ash Borer, Hell, Mizmor, Triumvir Foul and Uskumgallu. If for some reason that pedigree doesn’t win you over the music most certainly will. Anmoksha is pure, fuzzed out black metal fury. It wastes no time with atmospherics or overlong build-ups, but does occasionally indulge in the briefest of slow downs, perhaps to give the listener time to catch their breath. After all, the human body can only handle so much acidity, and Urzeit brings more than enough, especially on tracks like “Bellisunya” that feature a pummeling, punk beat. If you’re a fan of other PNW black metal bands but wish they operated with more ferocity, then Anmoksha will be right up your alley. — Leif.
Slightly-Sympho Melodeath-Techers Allegaeon return after their TovH-acclaimed 2014 banger Elements of the Infinite, this time with a brand-new frontman and renewed songwriting energy. The band continue to excel at their brand of modern melodeath, this time with Riley McShane’s more diverse screams to add another layer of texture atop the mesh of eight-string guitar riffs (as well as the occasional choirs and strings). I found Proponent for Sentience very enjoyable upon first listen… as long as I ignored the predictably stale Dave Otero production and some of the borderline-cringey Dawkinscore “HAIL SCIENCE” lyrics. But I digress; I strongly recommend this album to anyone looking for their fix of melodeath with a side of tech. Stream Proponent for Sentience here. — Moshito.
Hammerhands – Largo Forte
Independent | September 15th, 2016
Hammerhands have got the crushing sludge meets old western score that you never knew you needed until now with their sophomore album Largo Forte. These dudes seamlessly combine the heaving mass of a band like Sumac with kitschy twang that is at once a parody of the spaghetti western sound and a tribute to it. “THUNDERCHUNK” [not my emphasis] steams ahead slowly like the anthem for some kind of railroad crew death march. The title track rides a Morricone-esque melodic theme right into the ground and hammers it home with fiery riffs from a wrathful god. “Where We Go” indulges in twang, over which oil-slick, devilish vocals tell a narrative of old west savagery. I have mentioned before that I like it when bands in the sludge/post-metal/doom genre can step outside the stale boundaries of generic conventions and present a unique and new take on the genre. I think Hammerhands have done just this with Largo Forte. Their distinctly darkened vision of the old west is a very welcome addition to my collection, satisfying both my desire for the heaviest of riffs and my love for spaghetti western scores. — Old Man Doom.
Abigail has never become a favorite for bigger audiences, despite constantly touring and putting out material since ’92. One of the more apparent reasons is the lack of albums – The Final Damnation is only the band’s sixth – another, their tendency to release approximately 300 splits and EPs a year. Between them and Barbatos‘ output, Yasuyuki Suzuki is easily one of extreme metal’s busiest men. The vast number of records has neither slowed him down, nor caused a deviation from the plan. The Final Damnation delivers savage black/thrash or “street metal” with the fury, fervor and perversity only Suzuki knows. With titles like “Sex & Metal,” “Whisky Coke And Bitch” & “Sweet Baby Metal Sluts” (uhh, is this what I think it is?) you ought to know what you’re in for. Though in his relentless quest to quench his thirst, Suzuki smoothed down some of the bends. The Final Damnation‘s bass-heavy sound is relatively clean, lacking tape hiss and interfering noise black metal is so often associated with. Abigail hasn’t released an album this distinctively thrash-less since Intercourse and Lust, all in favor of unhinged, blackened-to-the-point-of-charred riffing. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an album more savage than this. — Karhu
Loud, noisy and irresponsibly pissed off are the best ways to describe Palehorse. There’s a noise rock undercurrent happening here that is mingling between the sheets with the likes of KEN Mode, Botch and Coalesce. The song titles are outlandish to the point where they are luring you in and begging you not the take the pill that comes along with the unpleasant audio. How can you not be the least bit curious about a track that goes by the name of “Miserable Heroin Addict Vs. Jehovahs Witness Guy”? You would not be shocked in the least if Don King was booking that fight, and I for one want front row seats. The absurdity does not end there because just for shits and giggles you get, “Terrifying Japanese Coldplay Documentary.” I do not know what the means, but I’m already four tracks in and dying to know why Palehorse has to be so god damn confrontational about everything. — Ron Deuce.
If you like Comeback Kid, Ignite and Bad Religion, Giants is a band that is more than happy to serve you that sandwich. Comeback Kid is the most dominant of the influences here, and that’s a good thing when you’re able to measure up to that band’s pedigree. Factor in the Ignite and Bad Religion aspects and you have something truly captivating that will grip you throughout. This is some god damn catchy, energetic and well played hardcore punk rock that will have you raising your fist and singing in unison with each and every track. The songwriting is clear and concise with the production lending its hand in creating the inspirational energy that the band set out to create. Break the Cycle is filled with the anthems you never knew you needed. — Ron Deuce.
I mentioned this Greek band in my most recent news post becasue they have a new album coming soon, but I had never heard of them before so I went and checked out their previous album. Oh man was I not disappointed. Progressive saxophone-infused “black” metal is everything I hoped it would be. Extance has a little touch of dissonance throughout, but somehow stays on the melodic side of things. It gets blisteringly fast and loud, then ices the wounds with some chant-like clean singing, a melodic guitar solo, or some sexy sax. If you want all of that in one song (and why wouldn’t you?) check out “Der Mude Tod.” Though the resemblance fades in and out over the course of the album, I imagine fans of Ihsahn will love this. Look for their new album November 25 and check out a track from it here. — Joaquin Stick.