Mini-Reviews from Around the Toilet Bowl XIV
I’m not gonna sit here and tell you that big things come in small packages. That’s a physical impossibility, and it would be dishonest to say otherwise. It’s bullshit. Small packages can’t even hold medium-sized things. That said, it doesn’t mean good, informative, and interesting things can’t come in small packages. They can. As long as they’re also small.
Outre – Ghost Chants
Third Eye Temple | April 14, 2015
About halfway through Ghost Chants‘ second track it was clear that the promo stork delivered this baby to the wrong doorstep. It’s not that I didn’t love it; I was completely sold when the very first eerily-chanted words graced my earholes – “Upon the great night sky /
When the time comes…”. But even as I held it in my arms, its dissonant and jarring cries called out for another. They called out for W. I felt a single pang of what I can only assume to be what some refer to as “guilt” before it was wiped out by the blasting of strident black metal. It felt good to let go. Outre’s Ghost Chants is poised to overtake Devouring Star‘s most recent offering as best Deathspell-like experience of the year in my book. Musically, it’s a perfect blend of discordance, mood, and groove. Vocalist Stawrogin (currently filed under “guest/session musician”) makes sounds that almost certainly require insect parts, and they make up only a fraction of his insanely diversified approach to vocals. Check it out on Bandcamp. — Masterlord
Mick Barr | Mother Satan Don’t Put Out The Light
Handshake, Inc. | May 7th, 2015
Mick Barr (Krallice) composed this eleven minute piece of music as the film score to Mother Satan Don’t Put Out The Light, a short film created by David Hall of Handshake, Inc. Armed with a twelve string banjo, assisted by Caley Monahon-Ward on violin, and recorded by the insanely prolific Colin Marston, Barr composed the film’s score with no other information than its title. Like Burial Hex’s The Heirophant from last year, this score is heavier than your favorite metal song in 2015. Barr and Molahon-Ward create high tension using only the instruments mentioned, and add drama with thrilling tempo changes and a startling use of negative space. There are more twists and turns here than The Prestige. I have not seen Hall’s film; this score could easily serve as the soundtrack to any southern gothic night terror. You can check out the song on Bandcamp. — Edward
Does the title of The Years point to the collective experiences we have gathered on Earth in our lives so far? Does it point to an untold number of years that looms large over our horizons? Whatever its meaning, The Years is a hell of a debut album from a young band. Its opening call to WAKE UP brings to mind System of a Down, but this is not music for the pop charts. It’s an elegant deconstruction of death metal’s parameters. It’s brawny and aggressive, but matches those traits with a penchant for softness which reminds me of post-metal champions Isis. “Nothing But A Burden” and “Crustacean Eulogy” eschew traditional song structure, and play with such dissonance it calls to mind a Gorguts cult favorite. The operatic intro to “Admission” belies the tale of paranoid ramblings; those ramblings are interrupted by sultry horn playing which makes an appearance again on “Consequence”. “Fault of the Sun” takes us on a twelve minute roller coaster ride, and does not fail to bring The Years to a satisfying conclusion. — Edward
In Counting Days, the Charlotte, NC band managed to perfectly reproduce the feeling of a great sparring session. There is something oddly satisfying in hitting/getting hit by a friend in a controlled environment. It takes a while to kick in, but once it does, every punch, parry, dodge or kick is met with a smile from both sides. All the sweat and exhaustion is justified as the endorphin storm hits your bloodstream to numb the remnants of your aching body. Viajando‘s punk-inflected stoner metal delivers a wide variety of deadly blows, but their crafty songwriting is so instantly enjoyable and memorable you won’t feel your face getting caved in. In fact, you’ll be grinning through the whole thing. — Dagon
When I reached the end of the debut EP of one-woman project Psychedelic Witchcraft, I was intrigued. While Virginia Monti sings about not falling prey to Black Magic Man’s… hm, magic, I could not help but feel that I was the one under a spell. Every track showcases a slightly different side of the project, but they all capture that 1970’s vibe perfectly. What elevates this release to an upper echelon is the sheer quality of the guitarwork and Virginia’s golden voice. How she manages to sound smooth and powerful at the same time, I don’t know. What I do know is that she made me miss the feeling of falling in love – or lust. There is no black magic man. There is only one black magic woman, and I am helpless to her enchantments. — Dagon
Spylacopa – Parallels
Rising Pulse Records | March 31st, 2015
Rare is the occasion when I find myself listening to a band whose genre I can’t quite pinpoint, even if it’s something broad and all-encompasing like just plain “metal” or even “rock”. Brooklyn’s Spylacopa are one such band. The brainchild of Candiria‘s own John LaMacchia, Parallels is heavy, electronic, proggy, atmospheric, groovy, melodic and everything in between. This is a really strong and diverse offering, and a fitting tribute to late drummer Troy Young. Get Parallels here and do not skip this, chances are you’ll find something on it that’s to your liking. – MoshOff
I’m sure most of you only know Nekrogoblikon as that band with the video of a goblin getting high and mulching a guy’s face, but the band has come a long way since then. Not much has changed stylistically – they still tread a fine line between melodeath and metalcore and they still sing about goblin shenanigans – but everything is much tighter than before. The songs on Heavy Meta are far catchier and more coherent, clean vocals are both performed and placed better, and the overall mix and production are vastly superior to everything leading up to it. They are a band with a gimmick, yes, but I don’t think it’s fair to call them a “gimmick band.” The music would be good regardless of their image and the lyrics are far cleverer than other novelty bands (I’m looking at you, Steel Panther). Check out “Full Body Xplosion” and “Atlantis.” — Spear
Potential. That’s the biggest word that pops into my head while listening to this Indiana melodic death metal quintet. They’ve got the blazing guitars, machine-gun drums, and burned-at-the-stake vocals. Harbinger of Entropy has plenty of heavy headbanging moments and plenty of fun, memorable melodies. So why does this album only garner the descriptor of “potential”? Production. In the right hands, a crisper-sounding Harbinger of Entropy would garner the attention it deserves. Unfortunately, in it’s current form, the album sounds too much like a bedroom demo that someone would hand to you as you leave a show. With a little more focus on song structure and the guidance of a professional with a good ear for melodic death metal, Into The Divine has true potential. RIYL: The Black Dahlia Murder, Arsis, The Autumn Offering. — 365 Days of Horror
I am a dick. That’s the only explanation I can offer for sitting on the latest release from Unmothered for a whole month and neglecting to write fancy word clusters about it. There are three reasons you should listen to this jamming little 3-song EP: (1) U M B R A is a bitching ride that shifts effortlessly from headbangable sludge to dark, almost new-wavey rock. (2) Unmothered is from Austin and they DON’T have ironic facial hair or shitty 70s rock costumes. (3) Cuz I told you to, dweeb. You can stream the opening track “Magnetar” right now. Listen to it and try not to try not to make some awkward head bobbing motions, I dare you. Download the full EP here and thank me later with booze and cookies. — Joe Thrashnkill
When an electronic press kit describes the enclosed band as heirs apparent to the throne of Cryptospsy, any red-blooded metal reviewer would be foolish to not take notice. Unfortunately, the actual content of Time to Panic failed to to deliver on that promise. Yes, this band blasts, batters, and bludgeons with aplomb, and yes, there are some genuinely interesting things going on in several tracks, specifically “Overwhelming Positive Vibe”, but realistically, this is just a meat-and-potatoes deathgrind album. Not bad, but there are other bands making more interesting music in this style. — W.
When last I wrote about Lamentations of the Ashen, I had only born witness to a glimpse of his terrible power. However, after pressing play on Libertine Cyst, I was swept along by the eldritch scurrying of fiend-born rats, always questing for new horrors. They determined to lead me on even unto those grinning caverns of earth’s centre where LotA, the mad faceless god, howls blindly to the piping of his own amorphous idiot guitar-playing. Lamentations of the Ashen is the crawling chaos that haunts my waking dreams and draws me ever close into the eternal torment of the abyss. — W.