Mini-Reviews From Around the Bowl (2/3/22)


Snack-sized reviews for your post lunch listening.

RGRSSA World of Concern
Life After Death | January 7, 2022

The press text calling this “progressive death/grind” might make you expect something more outlandish than you’re getting. However, there is just enough notable character in here to make a more straightforward descriptor feel insufficient. The way RGRSS weave in subtle notes of other genres like tech, crust, and sludge serves to create a rather distinct atmosphere. Angrily barreling along at high speeds over occasional bumps, miserably trudging through mud, exploring the interesting stretches in between – the music is consistently varied and has pretty much everything I look for. I recognize all that, but while I’d still recommend the record, my enthusiasm for it has only waned since first hearing it. “Sickening Illusion” presents a microscosm of the album’s problems: technically, these guys have the chops and ideas to make a 7-minute song interesting, and there certainly are many fun parts, but even on your first listen, you’ll likely identify several sections that could well have been 4 or 8 bars shorter, and the slower parts just sound tired in places. By extension, the album’s half-hour run time ends up feeling too long, and songs that should be a nice change of pace just seem like padding. There’s high-quality ingredients here, but the recipe might need some more thought. — Hans

ThornYawning Depths
Chaos Records | February 4, 2022

I tried to follow Spear’s writing prompt with this one: it’s from my inbox and it’s not something I’d usually write about, since death metal is the only genre where not knowing what I’m talking about actually stops me from talking. Not having heard a lot of the classics, I lack reference points, but Thorn probably sounds similar to another death metal band, which might make you happy or mad. I also don’t have the knowledge about technique and composition that I feel reviewing death metal requires, but I’m sure the guitar is played a certain way to achieve a thing that is probably good. It’s a solo project from a former member of Fluids, who apparently didn’t feel like doing the Maggot Stomp/Rotted Life type of death metal anymore (turns out I’ve heard some death metal, at least), as this isn’t as primitive and not as mercilessly downtuned. There’s even some use of effects. Parts of it are really good and interesting, even when they almost sound like death doom, but my attention span just isn’t built for this. Speaking of which, I don’t hear the alleged grind influence. — Hans

IscuronThe Pursuit of Unhappiness
Independent | November 30, 2021

I liken symphonic black metal to elote: it’s corniest of metal subgenres slathered with cheesy, buttery synths. Deceptively simple, but with the right zesty blend of toppings it’s downright addictive. The second release from Italian one-man black metal project Iscuron falls into this well crafted elote tier of symphonic black metal, or rather “symphonic/medieval/space black metal”. You can expect the cornerstone “isn’t this just power metal?” melodic guitar and synth lines, electronic atmospherics and flourishes à la Windir’s 1184, and a whole polka band’s worth of folkish doots and toots. Think Mesarthim if they would come back to earth from their Space Rave, pick up an accordion, and write songs about castles and maritime adventures. — Megachiles

Poison RuïnLive/Tour Tape ’22
Independent | January 1, 2022

Poison Ruïn answers the question of “What if a young Grant Hart had taken to writing songs about medieval weapons and D&D?” These fierce live cuts of songs from their first two EPs are bookended by a trilogy of mellow dungeon synth pieces. Essential listening for fans of moshing and TTRPGs alike. — Megachiles

Blowjob Records (nice) | January 14th, 2022

It’s only fitting that I have no recollection of how I stumbled on Ecuador’s Don Bolo—my Bandcamp wishlist was simply different one morning as I bore witness to the immaculate production. BAHAMUT is like a plume of smoke, voluminous yet intangible, twisting into new thoughts and shapes with every listen: the brass section’s mix of swagger and abrasion recalls a secret agent who’s terrible at stealth (“SIKA”); King Crimson trap (“Solo Se Odia Lo Querido”); the perfect soundtrack for relaxing with your ungulate aunty and imbibing a squirt of breast milk while you balance the world’s largest pearl on your noggin (every song). Bonus points are in order for the 8-bit coin noises and airhorns. — Roldy

Dawn of AshesScars of the Broken
Artoffact Records | March 18, 2022

Edgy. If there is a word to describe the dark electro/aggrotech/industrial music genre, it would be that. So, when I got the promo copy of this album and saw the cover art for the first time: yeah, I thought the same. Then I searched for the band and saw some of their promo shots: yeah, my biases were solidified further. However, I gave it a try anyway, since I always liked the aforementioned genres musically and I’m certainly glad I did. This is a great amalgamation of brooding EBM beats, distorted guitars, almost ethereal synths and, unbelievably, even symphonic elements. The vocals are fittingly harsh, as you would assume for aggrotech-type music, but overall, the musical variety on display here is certainly something to highlight, where many genre peers almost seem stagnant.

Thematically, the album will not be for everyone. First of all, it is heavy stuff. It deals with mental health. A topic, which for better or worse – I personally think worse, is still a societal taboo to discuss, which is why people suffering from mental health problems often elect to use various forms of art to express their thoughts about it. Now, it is a deeply personal topic and everyone has to choose for themselves how to deal with it, but it also sometimes is just used for shock factor. Thankfully, I can report, that Dawn of Ashes have not fallen into that trap. The music is chaotic. Not in a structural sense, but in the emotion it tries to evoke and in that creates a surprisingly close parallel to the maelstrom of emotions churning in many of us. There are disturbing moments created by haunting sampled cries, there are aggressive moments of lashing out against perceived hopelessness created by harsh, violent vocals, but then there are also hopeful and cathartic sections, that everything can be alright again, created by beautiful synths and orchestral strings. It is a remarkably nuanced take on the whole topic and it clicked with me, but I don’t think it will click for everyone. Is it edgy? Sure, but sometimes we as humans have to deal with edgy stuff too. And doing that is real effort, that doesn’t deserve to be ridiculed with such a descriptor. 4/5SLNC

SijjinSumerian Promises
Sepulchral Voice Records | November 12, 2021

Here we have a spiky and all-round deaththrash brute from late last year. The ringleaders in Sijjin had already proven their mettle in Necros Christos, leaving little surprise as to the direction of their next output, but it manages to come off just a bit tighter and tenser, thrashing up and down and all over the temple walls. These pieces are packed with changes and riffs that swap parts out from one another to hook in, showing a learned knowledge of songwriting innards and how to read the omens within. Behold “Angel Of The Eastern Gate” shuffling its staggered gallop with erratic blasts, almost losing track of whether it’s stabbing the blade in, or rending it out. Attend, ye pecked and harried stragglers, “Darkness On Saqqara” as it restlessly whines in quivering tongues, buzzing tremolo lines like a nest of asps. The Sumerian Promises lay atop a foundation of dirty sorcery, practiced in sinew woven into snarling song. — A Spooky Mansion

Concrete WindsNerve Butcherer
Sepulchral Voice Records | November 26, 2021

Somewhere, a sentient pile of copulating power tools is considering suing for unauthorized use of their likeness. Finland’s own Concrete Winds return with more ear-abusing deathgrind, letting their highest registers shriek to the degree of a pending OSHA violation. The guitars whir and wobble on their axes, incessant and sparking against one another. Some tracks, like “Chromium Jaws”, let them chew up the track side by side, ratcheting up in blind chromatic escalation before cycling back to first position like a power hammer, then crashing into a strut-shearing breakdown with increasingly rictus-strained swipes of guitar, like flailing high-tension wire after a snap. Others, like “Noise Trepanation”, just keep stamping riff after riff into templated shape as the overclocked drums feed the hydraulics and drag you down into the guts of the factory to be mashed and minced. All of this to say each track features only the mildest kind of variation on extremely tight, extremely busy grindcore that is only barely rendered listenable by finely tuned production and impeccably tight musicianship. Hard hats only. — A Spooky Mansion

Yearning – MMXXII
No Funeral Records | January 30, 2022

Yearning have put together a [noun]smacking release in MMXXII. Rising from the collective ashes of Autre Part (post rock/shoegaze) and Nous Étions (sludge/post-hardcore) is a very angry, very short lived French Canadian phoenix. Not quite reinventing the wheel, and with eight tracks, none clocking over two minutes, it is a blistering, belligerent, but brief bundle. — Dapatcho

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