Mini Reviews From Around the Bowl (4/13/23)


Mini reviews, big opinions.

Sarcoptes – Payers to Oblivion
Transcending Obscurity Records | February 24, 2023

‘Member when our beloved Dubz spoke highly of this symphonic, black metal / thrash duo back in 2016? I ‘member, and loved that debut. We find ourselves seven years later graced with a follow-up that does everything Songs of Dance and Death did – except bigger and betterer. The songwriting remains familiar, with furiously fast riffs alongside frenetic drumming and atmospheric keyboards, featuring tracks that range from four minutes up to 14; with a few new flourishes (guitar solos finally). And I cannot stress this enough: Sarcoptes’ sound has improved SO MUCH since the debut. The mixing/mastering is jaw-dropping, every guitar note sounds sharp as a razor, the drums organic and precise, better sounding choirs, and finally the vocals are way angrier – less black metal rasp and more violent screaming for dear life. Garrett and Sean have created a spectacular sophomore album, one of which to be incredibly proud. (Make sure to embiggen that gorgeous artwork by Adam Burke.)  — McNulty (D.F.)

Allochiria Commotion
Venerate Industries | April 24th, 2023

Sludgy post-metal is having one hell of a season, and out of nowhere, Allochiria comes in and drops yet another ripper. The constant intensity is more reminiscent Lo! than the brooding methods of Cult of Luna, but they easily throw in some of the latter’s clean guitar melodies and grooves. I love when the vocals reach a fever pitch and screech like I thought only The Atlas Moth could. The album closer, “Darklight,” is an excellent showcase of their flexibility with a sick disjointed-but-somehow-still-catchy riff that weaves through the fuzzy base. It’s a good one, folks! — Joaquin

HowlingHostis Humani Generis
Independent | April 10, 2023

Relentless and oppressive black metal constructed from imposing monoliths of tremolos and blasts. The slightly washed-out vocals are perfectly embedded in the structure, contributing to the uncomfortable atmosphere of facing a giant wall in which unsettling shapes inexplicably writhe. It’s a pretty sheer wall, offering very little in the way of footholds; the songwriting feels largely inspired by the “more is more” approach of war metal and only rarely lets up to give you a moment of rest or something memorable. Therefore, Hostile Human Genitals is best enjoyed for its cathartic effect, as an impressively effective palate cleanser after slogging through a long list of mediocre new releases (not to mention a less than mediocre workday). — Hans

Toilet RatsIV
Independent  March 3, 2023

I’m sure you’ll agree that band name relevance supersedes genre relevance, but even if not, Toilet Rats retain some metal cred with their horror-themed lyrics. Meanwhile, the rest of the music is basically a speedrun through the best of pop and punk. With copious use of synthesizers, the project dashes through goth pop (“Haunted House,” “Walk the Earth”), straightforward Ramones worship (“Drug Bird”), all-out silliness (“Nessie”), and emo-esque vocal melodies (“Carol Kane,” “Black Box Recorder”), the latter of which are responsible for a fair share of the album’s ever-present hooks. Everything is catchy as fuck, woven together with obvious joy, and goes by in a dizzying flash, so even if you can’t permit yourself to enjoy it, at least you can be sad and boring again pretty soon. — Hans

Hungry Wolf – Burden
Independent | February 28, 2023

I feel perhaps overaffectionate towards Hungry Wolf, a crusted-up black metal band from St. Petersburg, on the strength of their roving debut record, Forgotten Frozen Lands. From out of nowhere came this frosty little riff machine that just stuck with me the rest of the year and beyond. Got it’s meathooks in me and keeps dragging me back. Finally getting a second record got my gears whirring, but for me at least the magic isn’t there anymore. Oh, there’s still a scavenged panoply of persistent melodeath and black’n’roll raided from burnt Scandinavian villages, but it feels a bit more brick-by-brick than the last time around. Instead of piercing through the town’s defense, they’re loping around outside the perimeter hoping to pick off stragglers. There ain’t nothing here that’s going to match “Beer Drinkers & Grave Robbers” for me, and mostly it’s serving as a signpost for me to tell you to go listen to Forgotten Frozen Lands instead. — A Spooky Mansion

Melissa – II
Independent | March 24, 2023

The temptress returns, a prelude to terror. For this month’s pick of vampirically-inclined slapdash black metal stompers, look no further than Melissa. She comes oozing through the cracks in the crypt wall, composed incorporeally of reverb and crackling midtones, and pounding out rabid 2-chord creeper riffs with deadly force. For so many bands that use their simplicity and sonic style to mask for a lack of vision, Melissa‘s every thought is bent on creeping into your skull and infecting you with her dykanthropic disease. Songwriting ain’t exactly dynamic here, we’re hammering in fresh stakes and sealing the lid tighter and tighter with every strum. The breakdown from “Natalie” feels like it keeps pouring on sloppy helpings of dour malaise, so much that it dribbles off the ladle. I want this EP to step all over me. Proper filth. — A Spooky Mansion

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