Mini-Reviews From Around the Bowl (3/11/21)


Tiny reviews that will keep you sated.

Avantgarde Music | May 8, 2020

After the lengthy intro and slow buildup one might expect from an album centered around a meditation exercise and “spiritual turmoil,” Drought quickly hone in on the turmoil and launch into some very energetic black metal. While still slowing down now and then, the overall impression is one of constant forward momentum, which, together with occasional dissonant elements, creates quite a gripping sense of urgency. At least, this is true for the first three and last three songs. The middle three is where the album’s theme comes back to bite it in the ass. This part in the threefold structure is concerned with transformation (I think), and consists of an ambient interlude as well as two instrumentals. Not entirely uneventful, but easily the most boring part. And when things ramp back up with the awesomely titled “Sharpening the Weapons of Inner Revolution,” you’re left wondering what the point was, given that not a whole lot seems to have changed. It feels like the concept of the album is simultaneously over- and underdeveloped. Still, at least two thirds of it are really solid. –Hans

Slough of DespairCatacombs of Terror
Independent | April 23, 2020

I get the feeling that these guys should maybe have made a stoner doom record instead of a death doom one. At least, some of the simpler chord progressions and the occasional harping on just one chord make me wish they’d just turn up the fuzz and bliss out. The album might also be better without the death metal vocals, which range from okay to thoroughly meh. Nonetheless, I’ve come back to this album several times. Perhaps it’s precisely those simpler chords, creating an air of sinister majesty. Images of sprawling, unexplored ruins underneath ominous skies are conjured before the mind’s eye. It also helps that the overall sound of the record seems to go for a very sympathetic 90s vibe. I ended up enjoying it, but I’m curious what someone more experienced with the genre thinks. –Hans

SleeplessBlood Libel
Necromantic Press Records | March 12, 2021

Not having read the promo text when I pressed play, I thought I was in for some bizarre doomy death metal when “The Man Who Could Not Sleep” started up, and was very surprised when the clean vocals hit. It turned out Sleepless actually play bizarre doomy heavy metal that loves to take dozens of peculiar turns in every song and seems intent on smashing as many conventions as possible. First, you’ve got the meaty tone of the guitars, which feels more suited to thrash or death metal. Next you’ll notice a level of technicality seldom heard in the genre. And lastly, there’s the labyrinthine songwriting that, although a little overwhelming at times, nonetheless manages to also deliver some hooks. I can’t think of anyone who actively plays a style like this today, but fans of acts like Watchtower and Confessor might get quite a kick out of this, especially if they’re looking for a less peculiar vocal style than those bands had. –Hans

Bloody HammersSongs Of Unspeakable Terror
Napalm Records | January 15, 2021

Okay, I admit it. I judged a book by its cover when it came to Bloody Hammers. Being signed to Napalm Records combined with their image made me think North Carolina’s Bloody Hammers was something else. I blame the top hat. Not too long ago I saw their name pop up on a horror punk playlist. Initially, I thought it was a mistake or perhaps another band with the same name. Lo and behold, Bloody Hammers is indeed a horror punk band which is great for me because I love horror punk. Songs Of Unspeakable Terror is a fun album, full of punk rock groove and devilishly ghoulish material. Every song is a catchy anthem to things that go bump in the night and occasionally things that bump back. “A Night To Dismember” and “Night Of The Witch” are particular standouts. Interestingly, I discovered “Night Of The Witch” a year ago, not by Bloody Hammers, but under frontman Anders Morgan’s other name, Coffin Moth. Was it destiny for me to discover Bloody Hammers? Maybe it was written in the stars. Or perhaps in a pool of blood. — 365


Marianas RestFata Morgana
Napalm Records | March 12, 2021

Did you think the never-ending depression of 2020 was going to stay in 2020? Ha. How wrong you were. The dark, oppressiveness that is life continues into this year, punctuated by Marianas Rest’s Fata Morgana. Following in the same raging, anguished vein as Swallow The Sun, Insomnium, and Omnium Gatherum, Marianas Rest bore deep into your soul with mournful guitars, pounding drums, and hellish screams. Blending melodic death metal and doom, Fata Morgana is pure emotion laid bare. Melancholic, yet forceful, the Finnish group aptly represent what we’ve all experienced, not just recently, but in the harshness of real life. Anger, fear, sadness, despair. It’s all here in this album and it speaks for everyone. — 365

Sick ElectricTiny Invasions
Self-Released – February 12, 2021

Back in college, I ran an on-campus group called the Musicians Guild. We were a group of musicians that would help people form bands, find practice space, and put on shows. Junior year I was asked to help run sound for a local band called Sick Electric. Their brand of aggressive post-indie rock meets surf rock was instantly memorable and incredibly fun. Laser vs Laundry is still a favorite. To top it all off, they were all great guys that I would book several more times over the years. As with many local bands, priorities change and the band went quiet a few years after their 2010 EP Death By Electrocution. To my surprise and joy, the band has gotten back together with Tiny Invasions. Sick Electric continue to do whatever they want as this EP has a lot of groove, quirk and, dare I say, funk. Fans of Les Claypool, Tom Waits, and 90’s funk metal bands will definitely find things that will allow gyrate and swivel to in an awkward manner. Time and age has not abated the bands aggression, though, as there are still some flat-out raging moments throughout. Tiny Invasions is a welcome return from a band that has a special place in my heart and I’m so happy a new generation of music fans can now enjoy what I’ve known for almost two decades. Welcome back, guys. — 365

To The GraveEpilogue
Unique Leader | April 16, 2021

I no longer sleep at night. I can hear it when I close my eyes; the incessant pounding in my ears, the discordant screeching of car brakes sputtering out something that could almost be called a melody as the pulse crescendos to a maddening din. Nor do I taste, nor do I speak; my lips remain ever sealed in fear of repeating what I have heard and inflicting this madness upon another. I grasp in the never-ending cacophony for a shred of melody, a guiding light in the maelstrom that threatens to consume the fragile vessel of my mind, but I know there is none. There is no escape, no respite, and I know this curse is mine to bear. The deluge will never end; our inbox managers will keep sending me deathcore promos.

Anyway, I didn’t like this record very much. — Spear

Independent | March 19th, 2021

Don’t have the time for a full-length album and need a quick shot of tech? Never fear: Estuarine has you covered with Nyarlathotep, cramming a whole lot of music into eight songs (or one song? Hard to say) that don’t quite scratch the ten-minute mark. And boy does this thing go places; I might describe it as grindy tech death, but that feels insufficient to describe something that one second channels the esoteric mysticism of Lykathea Aflame and moments later starts pulling riffs from the Gridlink playbook. The mix is as bizarre as the music, too- the distant percussion and hollow guitar tone give it this sort of impressionist feel, as if you’re listening to a Monet interpretation of tech death. This smattering of ideas and the way in which they’re executed continues to make Estuarine one of the most unique acts out there. This is definitely not going to be something for everyone, but it’s well worth the listen; even if you don’t like it, it’s not like you’re losing a lot of time to it. — Spear

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