Mini Reviews From Around the Bowl (5/18/23)

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Minis are back with a vengeance.


Cattle Decapitation – Terrasite
Metal Blade Records | May 12, 2023

All I could think of through this entire album was that, to me, the evolution of the band is no longer interesting enough to mask the smell of their played-out half-assed edgelord environmentalism. Ironically, Cattle Decapitation has clearly been pumping some preservatives into their produce, because this is just Death Atlas if it sat on the shelf another 3 years. Admittedly, I think the intrinsic question asked of making goregrindy grossout tracks by simply role-reversing animal victim and human torturer is not just rancidly cool, but one of the most genius uses of death metal’s gore obsession to make a solid point. As time goes on, however, the shallower “I still unironically believe in overpopulation” bullshit side of Mr. Ryan’s worldview seems to be taking over, and more cloyingly, it always comes wrapped in tiresome, grandiose, weepy choruses that reek of bathos and patently Do Not Bang. Fleshgod Apocalypse called, they said you forgot the sad violins their place. Even the grindy bits are just a bit flatter and clammier than they used to be. – A Spooky Mansion

p.s. this album art licks turds and there was no reason to try and sic your fanbase on a teenager for leaking it.


Anthropophagous – Abuse Of A Corpse
Independent | April 7, 2023

(Spear note: I know Snooty talked about this one already, but I missed Spooky’s review before, and I’m not one to not run good writing) Verging on thrashy, low on the flashy, squishy and splashy, death metal chassis. I’m finding Anthropophagous to be a crafty little outfit, whose songs consistently milk my brain for dopamine and seem to instinctively know the exact moment to swap out riffs for the next dose. Sturdy-footed at its core, Abuse Of A Corpse hits just the right balance of chromatic slipperiness and solid-centered arch-malevolent chugging choppage, not unlike walking a slick slaughterhouse floor with OSHA-approved gripping soles. Why is there a dungeon synth interlude? I can’t answer that question, but I can say that the skip button is right there so it can’t be that much of a problem. I must fight my glib instincts towards grossout Rotten.com-wave death metal, but trust me, this one is special. – A Spooky Mansion


A Horrible Death to a Horrible Man Days Gone By
VS77 Records | May 19, 2023

This excellently named band plays a unique style of progressive doomy black-gaze, like a Lantlôs but sadder. The speedy melodic tremolo works perfectly to contrast the slothful but effective rhythm and dreary vocal delivery. Despite it being a huge gothy downer in tone, there are quite a few cathartic explosions that hit you right in the soul. Spoiler alert, the way the false ending on the last track bursts into the “we’re all gunna die” finale is just too perfect. – Joaquin


Parity BootFast Forward
Black Sunset | May 12, 2023

“We have Strapping Young Lad at home.” While they also list Fear Factory and Static-X as influences, Parity Boot pretty exclusively focus on doing what Devin Townsend doesn’t want to and, for his own sake, shouldn’t do – it’s no secret that Strapping Young Lad came from an immensely unhealthy place. Parity Boot don’t seem to be in that place (which is probably for the best); they don’t quite convey the same unhinged aggression, partly because they don’t achieve the trademark wall of sound and partly because nobody can match the original’s vocal range. Nevertheless, the riffs, the grand melodies, the samples, and if not the quality, then at least the delivery of the vocals – the snarls, the barks, the incredulous “can you believe this shit” tone, and the frequently soaring choruses – manage to capture the SYL catalog with uncanny accuracy. Your enjoyment will be greatly dependent on how much store you set by originality, but given what a ballsy endeavor it is to go for this sound at all, I think it’s astounding that they not only pulled it off, but managed to make their aforementioned shortcomings feel pretty minor in the process. –Hans


Vintersea 'Woven Into Ashes' cover.jpg

VinterseaWoven Into Ashes
M-Theory Audio | May 5, 2023

If I’ve learned one thing listening to Portland, Oregon’s Vintersea’s third album Woven Into Ashes is that I have been messing up by not listening to their first two albums. Their style of blackened progressive metal-meets-melodic death metal is a fantastic blend of unrelenting aggression and harmonious beauty. Pummeling blasts, vicious riffs, and eye-widening growls and screams satisfy that primal urge to crush and smash.  What really sets Woven Into Ashes apart from other blackened/melodic death metal bands, though, is their soaring, euphonious cleans. These choruses are all I could ever ask for and all I could ever want. They are, and I say this without hesitation, beautiful. People will inevitably compare Vintersea to bands like Jinjer and Arch Enemy, particularly Alissa White-Gluz-era Arch Enemy. Those people would be wrong. Arch Enemy wishes they sounded like Vintersea. – 365 Days of Horror


Darker DaysThe Burying Point
Fiend Force Records| April 28, 2023

I love me some horror punk. There’s just something about mixing infectious punk rock sounds with eternal Halloween that just hits all the right buttons for me. I even have a Spotify playlist dedicated to the genre as I constantly try to find more of this small, but incredibly fun sub genre. It was this endless search where I first came across Salem, MA’s own Darker Days, adding their single “Maniac” among genre staples like Blitzkid, Calabrese, and, of course, Misfits. With their first full-length album The Burying Point, Darker Days dive headfirst into the grave with incredibly fun songs with wide audience appeal. Some horror punk bands get bogged down with the gimmick, but Darker Days avoid that trap with good, old-fashioned songwriting, tight playing, and actual singing. Speaking of Blitzkid, TB Monstrosity does guest vocals, along with Rod Usher of The Other. That’s two big, bloody thumbs up from two horror punk veterans. If Warped Tour is ever raised from the dead, Darker Days would be leading the zombie march from town to town. – 365 Days of Horror


Cave GraveUnfurling Putridity
Hand of Death | April 20, 2023

With this chunky slab of Death Metal/Grindcore, relative newcomers Cave Grave offer up their debut full-length Unfurling Putridity for our listening pleasure. Truth be told, I wanted to like this considerably more than I ultimately did. The first track is a solid banger with a good mixture of chunky death metal riffs, thunderous drums and Grindcore rawness, with just a hint of dissonance added to the mix to keep things interesting… and then the second track is so slow and by-the-numbers that it immediately destroys all the momentum built up by the opener. The succeeding tracks attempt to rebuild some of that momentum via targeted injections of grinding speed, but due to their brevity they have a tendency to feel more like unfinished ideas instead of fully formed tracks. While there’s certainly good moments here and there that grab your attention and show the band’s ability to write interesting material, it rarely manages to come together into a cohesive whole. Until the final track, that is, which manages to be the second notable track on here with good riffs, interesting drumming and that invigorating mixture of death metal and Grindcore again that made the opener such a standout. Even then, it cannot help but sandwich the mediocre and frequently boring middle between a strong, interesting opener and closer. Ultimately disappointing, but it shows promise. – EvilHenchman


VelaraasPantheon
Independent | May 1, 2023

I tried many times over to get into Velaraas’s debut, Gilded Age, to no avail. Despite them having all the ingredients for something I’d be way into- tons of hooks, excellent instrumental work, and generally well-written songs- and despite having a fairly unique vibe, it just never really clicked. Maybe I was just turned off by the concept at the time. Whatever secret sauce they may have been missing has been found, however, because Pantheon sunk its hooks into me immediately and didn’t let go. Leaning harder into tech death certainly doesn’t hurt, at least to my ears, and the clean vocals are stronger and overall placed better than the previous album as well. The whole thing feels like if Parius had gone the opposite direction as they had on Signal, and I mean that as strong as a compliment as possible (with no disrespect to Parius, either). Prog and tech death fans absolutely need this in their rotation immediately. – Spear

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