Mini-Reviews from Around the Bowl: 03/23/17
And just like that, a fourth of the year is almost up. Feel old yet? Feast on Isis, Délétère, Pissed On, Anomalie, Havok, Deathwish, Disharmony, Funeral Storm, Celestial Rite and Beheaded.
Isis consistently released live albums starting in 2004, and upon their breaking up, I assumed VI would be their last. I was disappointed knowing that none of the Wavering Radiant material would get the live treatment, but much to my surprise, 7 years later, VII was announced. With five songs from Wavering and one from each of the other 4 LPs (and their 5th time using “Carry”), this is an excellent snapshot of the legendary band at the end of their career. I am particularly fond of these live albums because they tend the grab some sounds and oddities within the studio albums that you almost can’t hear and bring them to the forefront, which ultimately changes how you listen to the studio versions. This is a limited release, so get your preorders in now. I’m sorry Neurosis, I know you deserve some forefather credit and imma let you finish, but Isis was the greatest post-metal band of all time. OF ALL TIME. —Joaquin Stick.
At first nothing much on this new album by black metal Québecsters Délétère caught my ear. But subsequent listens revealed a modest bounty of catchy and rousing tunes. It was as if I was an obstinate mollusk hiding in the muck of some briny seabed, plucked up and shucked open by the blade of Délétère’s toothy riffs, my slimy innards lain bare to the cold light of their hypertriumphant melodies. Despite that ghastly (and most excellent) cover art, there’s nothing too grim here. The songs are elevated by subtle yet ever-present keyboards and brightened by an exceedingly crip and tasteful mix. Stream some here. —Richter.
There are two very unique instances where it is OK to be pissed on. The first is if you are a world leader who is covered in Cheeto Dust and you have an affinity for a water sports-style clean up courtesy of Russian escorts. The other instance, which would apply to the rest of us, would be to listen to the band Pissed On and spare yourself the humiliation of having to explain to everyone you know that you are into some very twisted sexual acts. Fans of the likes of Pig Destroyer and Vermin Womb will find plenty to enjoy on this five song EP which takes brain damage inducing death grind and meshes it with fits of doom and noise. Musically, Pissed On are very bestial and primal in nature with varying degrees of dissonance coursing through their riffs along with savage drumming and harsh death metal growls to tie it all together. If that is to your liking, check out advance tracks here and here so you can hear what all the fuss is about. —Ron Deuce.
It came as no surprise to me that Anomalie is a project fronted by a live member of the post-rock/black metal band Harakiri for the Sky. Visions seems to run in a similar vein as HftS, but with a slightly more introspective tone. Frontman Marrok has an excellent sense of how to layer melodic guitar riffs over relentless drums and the acoustic guitar sections add a really nice folk touch to the depressive atmosphere. I was pretty lukewarm on HftS’s most recent album despite its relatively high praise and I had a similar journey with this one. On first listen, I was beyond excited, but on subsequent listens my enthusiasm waned slightly. Pieces of it are undoubtedly great, so if you liked HftS, you will like this very much. Probably even more. —Joaquin Stick.
I must admit, not a lot of modern, cleaner produced Thrash is tickling my particular fancy lately, which is why Havok‘s Conformicide was a nice punch to the nads. The band has been around for some time, but never really stood out from the pack to my ears; it seems like they needed one Bass Ultramaster Nick Schendzielos (Job for a Cowboy, Cephalic Carnage) to slap everything into place. And slap he does, dammit. The bass is the highlight of the album for me, audibly emphasizing the guitars when necessary and funking things up with technical wizardry elsewhere. The drums sound really natural to me as well, and the overall mix is clean but not overly polished. Really, the one drawback from the album are some of the MEGA cringe-inducing lyrics, which get to be modern Mustaine-level bad (“POLITICAL CORRECTNESS IS A SOCIAL DISEASE!!!!”). Oh well. —Moshito.
I typically mock retro-leaning rock and metal bands since they’d oftentimes be better off performing covers at their local bar than writing their own tunes. However, the Wisconsinites in Deathwish do it right. Unleash Hell is just under 30 minutes of ripping, punky hard rock, almost a combination of bands like Motörhead and Black Flag. Truthfully, any longer and the record would start to feel monotonous, so the short run time is a blessing. It’s just enough time to get the groove and not enough to feel bored. The riffs are tight and bassist/vocalist “Bitty” has some killer screams that sound like High on Fire’s Matt Pike at a higher register. Makes me wanna grab my PBR tall boy and fucking fight someone shirtless in the goddamn snow. YEP! —Rusty.
Disharmony falls into that vast vat of bands that made a few demo’s decades ago (in this case, the early 90’s) and disbanded. Only to be refound to see if their kvlt-kredit could be exchanged into success in the 21st century. Goddamn the Sun is the band’s first actual album release, and belongs to the surprising side of Iron Bonehead‘s grave-reeking roster of bands dug up from gods know where (If you are reading this, not every murky demo from ’91 needs to see the light of day) that deserves their second chance. Vocalist Damien King and his gang of newcomers have crafted a very enjoyable album of Greek black metal, mixing it with a good dose death as not to lose themselves in the shadow of the giants. Nevertheless, the first song proper “The Gates of Elthon” carries more than a little early Rotting Christ-vibes, but with their disjointed taste in leads having transitioned to the rhythmic playing, favouring more conjoined melodies. Here and there female vocals and faint-but-clear synths stir the pot just right, and keep Damien’s hoarse, monotonous croak from becoming too overbearing. Goddamn the Sun comes heartily recommended from this Beargod. —Karhu.
On the history of Hellenic black metal, Funeral Storm remains but a parenthesis – but the quality of their material would have warranted for more. Though beginning their career as a published band only in 2012, they sort of go back to the beginning of the millenia. Having graced the mortal coil with their works rather sparsely, only two other splits and a collection of archive material exists, their brand of highly traditional, melodic and thoroughly Greek black metal kept the quality high from dawn ’til dusk. For Funeral Rite the sole returning member, Wampyrion, dug Necroabyssious up from his lair to croak upon the world – and the sharpest riffs that Rotting Christ and Varathron had left in their drawers. Though good through and through the band’s entire career feels like a big teaser so far, and one would hope the climax to be delivered soon. Unfortunately, their brethren in dark, musky and bass-heavy Celestial Rite, similarly having only released few demos sporadically, have seen fit to leave behind the woes of this age, and bid farewell with their half. Equally as unmistakeably Greek in style, though quite a bit less melodic by-the-way of leads, offering instead booming percussion, tremolo-heavy riffing and ethereal synths, ahrkening back to the early days of “symphonic” black metal. One of the better, and more balanced splits of recent times, a joint effort from two clans of men, who knew – where one lives, the other must die. —Karhu.
Unbewhom’ve’d’st to this nerd, Beheaded have been around their fair share of time. They return this year offering us a Beast Incarnate; a blast beat a tremolo guitar-filled Death Metal album that blends solid playing with shouted vocals to make for a very solid listen (albeit maybe a bit repetitive one). The songs are mostly not long and not short, save for a few slower cuts with a bit more room to breathe and expand in between the frontal riff assaults. If you like your Death Metal without those pesky frills and with a filling, crunchy production, Beheaded have your number. —Moshito.
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