Mini Reviews From Around the Bowl (11/17/22)

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For the optimal listening experience, play all these albums at the same time.


Sfeerverzieker Death is the Desired Ending
Independent | 28th October, 2022

In spite of the dense atmospherics at work here, Sfeerverzieker (lit. mood-ruiner) isn’t very subtle about the emotions their EP is meant to elicit. Death is the Desired End is meant to be your sludge-doom anti-savior, come to wrest you from the horrors of gezelligheid and douse you in freezing, wet misery. The tracks pummel you like mid-tempo clockwork with thick sludge riffs driving the songs, almost like early Mastodon or High on Fire. Ethereal, melancholic guitar leads offer some brief atmospheric reprieve, and the whisper-growl vocals are low in the mix in typical sludge fashion, and it works well to create a stifling atmosphere. Even if you’re one of those winners of the depression lottery and already get your moods ruined for free, the EP is worth checking out if you’re looking for a soundtrack to the sea swallowing you whole.  Standout tracks: Masters of InsanityDeath is the Desired Ending Eenzaamheid


Neon ShudderWelcome to the NET
Independent | October 7, 2022

Synthwave, chiptune, nerdcore rap, shitty metal covers of SNES soundtracks – after a decade or more of everybody and their mother professing their nostalgia for 80s and 90s media, it’s fair to ask what another album in this vein may provide that you haven’t re-experienced already. Neon Shudder thematically place themselves in a domain typically relegated to vaporwave, oscillating between scores for lost PlayStation titles set in garishly colored megalopoli and your local library’s educational video about the internet. However, instead of dunking everything in a haze of chilled-out depression, they like to liven things up by adding drum’n’bass that feels of the era as well as cheeky bass lines that literally slap. The result is a picture of a past that never quite was imagining a future that never quite would be in such refreshing vividness that it’s almost a letdown when some tracks detour over too-well-trodden synthwave paths. – Hans


Inverted MatterHarbinger
Avantgarde Music | November 11, 2022

Despite strong roots in straightforward death metal, Inverted Matter don’t feel out of place on the label’s roster. Expertly and carefully turning a number of delicate dials,  they fine-tune their sound to balance the intensity of grind with spacious moments of ominous melody and subtle flourishes of tech death that lend a consistently proggy atmosphere. The ferocity of the former is never so overbearing as to crush the finer structures, and in turn, the prog side knows enough restraint to never water down the brutality too much. Comparisons to the fantastic Swelling Repulsion or the more recent Hussar came to mind, albeit only because I find the end product similarly hard to describe. They feel less like a subgenre of death metal and more like death metal from a parallel dimension where the genetic source material of the genre looks just different enough that these would maybe pass for OSDM. It’s kinda weird, and I kinda love it. – Hans


Eteraz – Villain
Independent | October 28, 2022

Kicking and screaming with scrappy little arms. 20 minutes, no breaks. No riffs, just crunchy d-beat triple pulse back to back. It’s basically what any worthwhile hardcore band should aim for, and Eteraz have enough life to reach the finish line with some spirit to spare. The texture is buzzier by a hair than it perhaps ought to be, but that resonance is powered by the stubborn basswork that keeps the guitars in a two-armed headlock beside it. Also it’s all in Persian. – A Spooky Mansion


Minenfeld / Repulsive Feast – Scourging The Sick 
Lycanthropic Records | November 4, 2022

What’s the deal with scourges? *synthesizer slap bass* You ever notice how repulsive it is when they feast? *synthesizer sax sting* When I see one of them coming, I split. *freeze frame over end credits*

I’m here for Jerry Minenfeld, and you probably should be as well. There’s about as many worthwhile World War-themed bands as there were World Wars, and Minenfeld are one of them. (The other, naturally, is fellow Germans Kanonenfieber). On this relaxed little split, the troops take a little break from their muddy Hail Of Bullets charges to do some deathdoom brooding, waiting out the next attack and hoping not to Asphyx-iate on an incoming chemical breeze. Consider this your conscription notice, and check out their full length. Repulsive Feast don’t do a bad job, but they’re still a bit in their larval demo stage and I don’t have anything to say about ’em. – A Spooky Mansion


Spellbook Deadly Charms
Cruz Del Sur Music | September 23, 2022

I wish I’d remembered these guys for my Halloween roundups, especially after my review of their ghostly debut. Let it be said then that Spellbook are still doing their shtick exactly right, curly waves of blues shred hanging loose, like dollar store spiderwebs, over the painted plywood crypt edifice. Deadly Charms is the kind of record I could throw on when Green Lung is too plodding, and Lucifer is too much of a downer. It’s a good moment for doom rock, all the sages coming together to light up the sky with a wiggly-fingered alakazam. – A Spooky Mansion


Ggu:ll – Ex Est
Consouling Sounds | October 21st, 2022

The Dutch remain on the bleeding edge of metal. This year has seen many more entries from highly committed artists, many of whom use different projects to plumb different depths. Tilburg’s Ggu:ll (“ghoul,” I think?) consists of former members of Dodecahedron, and their second LP Ex Est uses that band’s geometric sensibilities to explore labyrinthine doom rather than bizarro black metal. The result is a plumbing of the depths that feels like navigating a dangerous labyrinth—the walls are tall and smooth, but beneath is a coiled maze of passages that gets bleaker with each wrong turn. From the unsparing chords of “Enkel Achterland” to the slow return of “Hoisting Ruined Sails,” Ggu:ll has lashed together a golem of bleakness that will follow you into the maze’s last dead ends. –Theophrastus Bombastus


Snøgg – Meltdown
Terraformer Research Facilities | November 18th, 2022

Slovenia’s Snøgg have previously forced black metal outside its comfort zone. On their new LP Meltdown, the mysterious two-piece have taken their previous work and cut it into pieces, using those pieces to create a chaotic remix record. As a black metal listening experience, Meltdown is confounding—the songs are multi-layered and evoke the title through their compositional chaos. Like a John Heartfield creation, they abound with scavenged details. Some tracks work better than others, but the commitment to the bit is evident, even in the song lengths (each remix is exactly seven minutes long). Whether you actually enjoy this kind of musical maelstrom or just want to see how black metal can be taken apart and reassembled into something new, Meltdown is a zany new approach to the genre that makes a further case for these Alpine experimenters as top-rate pushers of the envelope. –Theophrastus Bombastus

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