Mini-Reviews From Around the Bowl (7/23/20)


Little reviews for your mid-afternoon goldfish brains

Hornwood FellCursed Thoughts – Part I
Kadabra Music | March 3rd, 2020

While Hornwood Fell is only closing on their seventh year of existence, technically their journey began in 2002, as the fairly well-received avant-garde black metal band Krom, and continued as the much less well received Kailash. After their latest name change, the band has become profiled as a more traditional black metal group, the experimental side has never completely disappeared either. Their recorded output has been very inconsistent, but My Body, My Time and Damno Lumina Nocte made promises of more interesting things to come. The first part of the Cursed Thoughts double album, with lyrics extrapolated from Baudelaire’s “Les Fleurs du Mal”, doesn’t know how to answer to those promises, but mostly manages to keep it’s head afloat with it’s proggened black/death concoction. Despite employing a drummer, the percussion sounds EXTREMELY programmed most of the time, and Cursed Thoughts has a very mechanical feel throughout, as if the riffs had been recorded a bar or two at a time, and then copied/pasted at appropriate places. There aren’t too many interesting ideas, but there’s a constant feeling that things are about to get better, which is the most engaging factor of Hornwood Fell’s fifth album. It’s also poorly engineered, with a lot of compression, and the songs often starting at explosively loud volumes before quickly growing silent. “The Possessed One” and “The Giantess” prove the Basili brothers’ well hasn’t run dry yet, but as most of the good moments spent with the album are tied to the expectations of things to come, the feeling quickly dissipates upon revisits. — KARHU

Make Them Die SlowlyFerox
FETO Records | May 1st, 2020

Duncan “Drunk” Wilkins is best known as the vocalist of Fukpig, and several other collaborations with Mick Kenney, the instrumentalist and songwriter of Anaal Nathraakh. A couple of years ago the duo teamed up with Wilkins’ old War of the Second Dragon bandmate, Shane Embury, to form Born to Murder the World, which essentially took the most aggressive, grindiest edge of Anaal Nathraakh and fortified it with a touch of Napalm Death. Make Them Die Slowly is essentially the half of AN that didn’t make it aboard BtMtW. The melodic black metal influence has been further polished into hook centered songwriting, though Wilkins’ acidic bark means they’re not always as easily available as with AN. The grind and the industrial/electronic influences have been stripped and I cannot help but to feel Kenney’s bout as a songwriter for bands like Motionless In White has influenced his work here, as the -core & bounce metal often take the center stage. Keyboards are used amply, often only to lush-up the background, but at times also as a central melodic vehicle. In the end, there’s no reason fans of later AN shouldn’t love Ferox, as there’s little-to-nothing to differentiate between it and AN’s latest, except for a different vocalist, and a horror movie theme. — KARHU

Ish KeriothUnder Unclean Wings
Haunted by Ill Angels | July 1st, 2020

It took me a while to realize Ish Kerioth is named after the disciple who sold out Jesus (albeit with a weird spelling that sounds like Sean Connery speaking when read aloud). It took me even longer to understand why I chose to listen to this release, what with the lo-fi black metal artwork—I could almost hear it sizzling in my ears just looking at it. Truth be told, I wanted this album to be the one to make the sound work for me. I was surprised to hear rough (but not raw) production, mid-paced, grooving drums (think Naðra), and compelling melodies along with the obligatory tremolo riffing. It’s difficult to determine if the band is kicking ass for the Lord or jiving with Judas, but either way, Under Unclean Wings is a low-fat hors d’oeuvre that manages to a) include songs under 7 minutes (in 2020!) and b) keep things moving in a way that makes the tried and trve feel new. — Rolderathis

Chaos CatharsisExtase Dans La Violence
Lord of the Sick | April 24th, 2020

These guys remind me of Blood Red Throne, which I liked a lot back in *checks watch* over ten years ago? Damn. Altered Genesis-era BRT, then, to be more specific. So it’s brutal death metal that ups the technicality a little bit so that songs can feel like they’re in a constant state of flux. This energy seems propelled by the drummer, who frequently shifts rhythms and is compelled to play crazy fills every couple of seconds. It’s not the most memorable material, but the constant level of brutality sans any experimentation (and sans stupid samples, for the most part, though they make up for that with an extra annoying one on the last song) is very satisfying. — Hans

Sensory AmusiaBereavement
Lacerated Enemy | August 20th, 2020

After a brief intro that sounds like the band is warming up (nothing spectacular, but it’ll get you in the mood), we’re off to an intensely brutal death metal romp. Tags on the BC page also include technical death metal and deathcore, elements of which are used rather well to enrich the sound. “Beast” draws most heavily on the deathcore influence with bouncy and catchy riffs, and catchiness is something the band is generally pretty good at given their style. “Pain” takes pains to bring the technical side to the fore, which feels a bit contrived, but once the song goes back to steamrolling the listener, the quality is on par again. Lastly, “Absolute” even manages to open up to some semblance of melody for a bit, further adding to the impressive level of variety on display. — Hans

StillbirthRevive The Throne
Unique Leader | August 7th, 2020

Described in the promo text as a mix of death metal, grindcore, and deathcore, it’s easily the latter that plays the most prominent role, along with some slam staples. It’s all here: the ridonculously low guttural vocals, the knuckle-dragging breakdowns, the pinch harmonics. As you could probably tell by the cover art, this is not directed at a high-brow audience, so you should not expect any surprises. While the sound could do with a tad more oomph – the fact that they employ two bass players doesn’t come through at all – it’s still a stupid fun record that’s perfect for when your brain is already mush anyway. — Hans

Bull of Apis Bull of BronzeOfferings of Flesh and Gold
Tridroid/A Moment of Clarity | June 21st, 2019

Forty-six minutes, but only three tracks… On a debut? This reeks of overambition and delusions of grandeur, were my thoughts when I first read the tracklist. The track names themselves didn’t help either, but hey, never judge a book by it’s cover, or rather a record by it’s tracklist, they say. Also, as a matter of fact, I’m always open to new angry, anti-oppression music, so I gave it a listen anyway. I’m glad I did, because this weird mix of black metal shrieks, blast beats, ambient and massive drone-y doom is actually fairly good. I won’t completely absolve it from sometimes feeling tedious and overindulgent, but if you have some time to kill and are looking for something a bit different, you could do far worse. — SLNC

Independent | July 10th, 2020

First of all, like with the Cosmovore EP that I reviewed the last time, I have to say, splendid artwork. A few days ago, owl guy and fellow contributor Rolderathis posted this album on Discord and asked me for my opinion, so I might as well share this opinion here. One word: Vocals. They simply hit different, especially on tracks like “Echoes.” The overall production is really good and the drums, aside from more than sufficient punch, have this clinkety-clink thing, made popular by Polish drummer Darkside- who is playing in bands which shall not be named- going, while the guitars sound nice and thick. Ultimately, I’d say that this is a quite decent to good atmospheric/post-black metal record, but only that, which is a shame, because I can hear specks of exceptionalism in these riffs and especially in the interludes and slower sections, but Seventh never seem ready to entirely shatter the mold. — SLNC

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