Mini-Reviews From Around The Bowl (9/17/20)


Mini review time, let’s goooooo

The Atomic BitchwaxScorpio
Tee Pee Records | August 28, 2020

Tune in, turn on, drop the hammer. The Atomic Bitchwax’s brand of dirty, dusty stoner rock returns once again with Scorpio. Like a swirling kaleidoscope, Scorpio takes you to the edge of sensory overload, though instead of wild colors and shapes, you get wailing solos and retro grooves. Featuring current members of Monster Magnet, it’s hard not to compare the two bands, especially when looking back on Monster Magnet’s early days. It’s that same “hop in a convertible and do donuts at the base of Olympus Mons” psychedelic aggression and that’s not a bad thing. Scorpio is a fun piece of rock and roll that will get you blasting down the highway, shaking your hips in your car seat as the sun sets behind you. — 365 Days of Horror

Fires In The Distance Echoes From Deep November
Prosthetic Records |  September 18, 2020

Many months ago, I received this album as a promo and was completely blown away. A melodic death-doom opus in the same vein as Swallow The Sun, Paradise Lost, and Amorphis hailing not from the Scandinavian countryside, but Connecticut. Not exactly a hotbed for this type of sound. What was truly surprising, though, was that they were self-releasing such a powerful and well-crafted album. Luckily, Prosthetic Records came calling and this album is going to receive the proper attention it deserves. Echoes From Deep November is a mournful album for a mournful time. Swirling with atmosphere and melancholy, each song is a crushing, emotional blow to the mind, heart, and soul. Fires In The Distance create a lush landscape of anguish, rage, fear, and passion. It feels real good to feel this bad. — 365 Days of Horror

The White Swan Nocturnal Transmission
War Crime Recordings | September 18, 2020

London, Ontario’s The White Swan rumbles your guts, rattles your bones, and soothes your soul with Nocturnal Transmission. Fronted by Mercedes Lander (drummer of Kittie), The White Swan crafts a brand of Passion Doom that is truly captivating. Although it just a 4-song EP (3 originals and a Tracy Bonham cover), the band manages to make a huge impression. Lander’s haunting vocals act as another instrument, deftly blending with the fuzzed-out guitars, roaring bass, and unwavering drums. Sludgey, atmospheric, and expressive, Nocturnal Transmission is a breath of fresh air for a hazy world. Here’s hoping for a full-length release in the near future. — 365 Days of Horror

Neurot Recordings/Rocket Recordings | September 4, 2020

Krautrock-dialed-to-11 trio Deafkids have teamed up with Petbrick, which consists of Iggor Cavalera and Wayne Adams (of semi-analog Drum’n’Bass project Big Lad). The result still vaguely resembles Deafkids’ repetitive, reverb-heavy punk that downright commands you to flail your limbs until you collapse, but it’s heavily enhanced by a plethora of electronic components that add a lot of variation to the sound. This makes songs that go hard go a lot harder, sometimes pushing them in an industrial direction, but also allows playing with dynamics – such as in “Sweat-Drenched Wreck” – and causes a general blurring of who contributed what. Is that a guitar or harsh synths? A drumkit or an electronic kick? Lastly, the collaboration explores further unprecedented avenues in quieter songs like the synthwave-y “The Menace of the Dark Polar Night” or the meditative “O Antropoceno,” where soft, layered percussion and atmospheric synths slowly work up to a startling crescendo. All in all, a nicely varied and mostly successful experiment. — Hans
Selfmadegod/Nerve Altar/7 Degrees | September 11, 2020

The Greek “astrogrinders” are back, and their fourth full-length comes with a small but significant change. While synths have always been an element in their music and have contributed their fair share of atmosphere in the past, they could sometimes seem like a mere afterthought (I seem to remember reading that they would usually be added as a last step to otherwise finished songs). Sublimation soon makes it clear that this has changed – there’s no way the opening to the album was not designed with those half-triumphant, half-foreboding synth blares in mind. All throughout, these atmospheric elements are given are more prominent role, which is not a radical change to the band’s sound, but allows for the spaces between the all-out grinding parts to be filled in interesting and memorable ways that fit the theme by enhancing the eerie vibes. Having this at their disposal seems to have encouraged the band to leave more of said spaces, and while the record is not short on aggression, oftentimes it also feels more measured and more comfortable just letting a song unfold instead of rushing to the next blast beat. As said, it’s not a radical change, but it consistently creates standout moments that give the album more of a distinct identity than the last two had. — Hans

HorsewhipLaid to Waste
Roman Numeral Records | September 25, 2020

I haven’t listened to Horsewhip’s first record yet, so I can’t tell if they’ve had something and lost it or if they’re still searching, but something seems to be missing here. It’s still a solid record, built around core elements of (dissonant) hardcore and (blackened) crust and sprinkling in many other influences, which makes for a varied and consistently aggressive experience. It’s not short on ideas and the members aren’t short on experience, having played in various bands before. And occasionally, such as in the menacing intro and incessant, galopping forward momentum of “Closure,” the music does connect. Yet for some reason, it’s often all too easy to hold it at arm’s length and let it flail impotently. I can’t pinpoint if it’s a superficial issue like the production or if the problem runs deeper, but something about this just doesn’t get through to me. — Hans

NugAlter Ego
Willowtip | August 14, 2020

I’ll admit I mostly clicked on this one because the name “Nug” made me giggle, and it turned out to be a good choice, largely due to the fact that they’re not the stoner metal band their name suggested they might be. Rather, Nug plays a tried and true combination of sludge and post-metal, and Alter Ego is an excellent example of what this style has to offer. Nug does a great job of hitting that sweet spot between somber, gentle atmosphere and leaden riffs, eschewing the notion that each of these should be separate and instead weaving the two together across the album’s run. It floats gracefully in spite of its raw tonnage, and it’s great for when you’re in the mood for a slower jam. Truly the dankest of nugs. — Spear

BattlemasterGhastly, Graven, and Grimoireless
Independent | June 26, 2020

Look at that wizard! Won’t somebody get him a grimoire? Battlemaster was already scoring points with me for that cover art and their absurd song titles, but it’s the music that really drives this bad boy home. Ghastly, Graven, and Grimoireless is a cornucopia of playful blackened thrash, and it’s extremely competent in spite of the inherent silliness of singing about downtrodden sorcerers. The riffs are some of best in their class, and while the solos aren’t the focus of the music, they always add to the music and are never the spray-and-pray wild shredding endemic to thrash. While the mix is a little thin in some places, it generally sounds pretty good, very clear and crisp. Most importantly, it’s a ton of fun, and you’re certainly going to be feeling happier than that wizard on the cover by the time it’s through. — Spear

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