Mini Reviews From Around the Bowl (2/15/24)


Tiny reviews to accommodate your sad little iPad baby brains.

[Arkham – Memoria review pulled for AI art. -Spear]

Night SlasherNight Slasher
Sliptrick Records | February 6, 2024

Having released a not exactly impressive album under the name Alcotopia, the band revamped their riffcraft, fueled up on fun, and modernized their moniker to return as Night Slasher. Far from the blunt OSDM you might expect, they instead forged a blade from thrash and speed metal and gave it a slightly blackened sheen. They got riffs for the cutting and solos for the stabbing, and all the while, they’re having a palpably great time with it, never more so than on the tongue-in-cheek closer “Satan in the Hall.” Aside from this, “Ice” and “Pit of Hate” are among the highlights, and the slower openings of “Liver Ripper” and “Towers” make for solidly constructed breaks from the frenzy. Alas, murder is hard work, and the blade occasionally fails to keep an edge; some cuts could have been more to the point, even if the genre mix consistently bleeds charm. –Hans

Jawbreaker Records | January 26, 2024

Despite not having heard a Tribulation record in years, they were the first band I thought of when hearing Command’s blackish retro-metal, and wouldn’t you know it, they’re from the same city. The geographic connection might actually be the closer one, for while both bands have a penchant for gothic vibes, Command’s approach is a fair bit less refined and theatrical. The sound is rawer, and although you’ll hear many a melody that wouldn’t be out of place on a post-punk record, the band seem more comfortable with letting that aspect take a back seat to focus on some straight rockin’. Still, the overall atmosphere is usually more melancholic than aggressive, conjuring images of tragic figures of the night rather than an upheaval of the undead. I have to admit that after 3 spins, I’m missing some standouts, but sometimes, it’s enough to just sit on a gravestone (possibly your own) for half an hour, ponder the full moon, and maybe heave a sigh or two. –Hans

Merzbow/Meat Beat ManifestoExtinct
Cold Spring | February 2, 2024

Shock collaboration between electro industrial pioneers Meat Beat Manifesto and noise icon Merzbow, a release that shares superficial similarities with the 2002 Merzbow record Merzbeat in its combination of rudimentary breakbeats and walls of distortion. Extinct is more in line with the trappings of power noise, however, and feels much more considered and traditionally musical. Two tracks that span just over half an hour, the first, “¡FLAKKA!,” establishing the tone of the record with a tinny, disintegrating breakbeat that is gradually overwhelmed by the sound of distortion and feedback, completely engulfing mix at times. The second track, “Burner,” is actually much more ambitious, featuring distortion that pops and burns in syncopation, sounding like both a drum beat and a gunshot. In doing so, it deftly blurs the lines between musicality and atonal noise. I find that recent Merzbow collaborations can often be uninspired, typically featuring lesser contributions from his collaborator that is then absently smothered in uninteresting noise from Merzbow. Extinct is actually much more involved and impactful, a record that sounds like sifting through broken glass, or a violent gale ripping through your ears after leaving the club, your ears still ringing. –Aaron

Alpha Wolf“Sucks 2 Suck”
Independent | January 24, 2024

Not sure if you guys are familiar with them but Alpha Wolf quickly became one of my favorite deathcore bands with the release of their 2020 record, A Quiet Place to Die, and now four years later they’re finally getting prepared to release their new record, Half Living Things. The first single for this record, titled “Sucks 2 Suck” (featuring Ice-T) just recently released and brings all the stupid heavy grooves you’d expect but this time with a bit of a style shift. We get cool grooves, stupid heavy riffs, hardcore vocals, and even some bars from Ice-T. I honestly can’t think of anything else I’d want from a deathcore track, and it gets me really excited to hear what the rest of the album has in store. If it’s anywhere near as good as this single, expect a full length review from me in the near future. –Gage

Deathless – The Clairvoyant
Independent | February 9, 2024

Imagine, if you will, a world in which Inferi was less noodly and sported the brickwalled-yet-juicy production of Nocturnal-era TBDM. Deathless peered across the veil into this other world, saw that it was good, and made it reality. The Clairvoyant is slick and technical to be sure, but they keep it memorable with a reined-in approach to songwriting that puts melody first and foremost. There’s a lot of variety from song to song, too; between the dour and foreboding atmosphere of “The Forbidden Land” to the triumphant refrains of “Harbingers of Demise” to the dissonance-tinged “To The Grave,” no song feels redundant or stuffed with filler. I’ve been blasting this thin on repeat since release, and I don’t think I’ll be stopping anytime soon. –Spear

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