in here i’ll put in reviews i found for my releases:
CULT OF OCCULT five degrees of insanity DLP
review by THE SLUDGELORD:
“I’ve been aware of French quartet Cult of Occult for a little while but had not investigated further due to their name. I realised what a terrible mistake I had made within seconds of listening to the filthy doom contained within “Five Degrees of Insanity”, a far cry from the bandwagon jumping retro rock I was expecting.
An ominous amp hum builds before erupting into the gut churning opening riff of “Alcoholic”. What follows is a 15 minute onslaught of bleak sludge, harrowing vocals and an evil guitar tone Bongripper would be proud of. Cult of Occult employ repetition to great effect, playing each riff until breaking point before moving to the next. A slight shift in tempo towards the end of track ushers in a pummelling one chord attack, drums pounding to a frenzied climax until the dust finally settles. The next degree of insanity, “Nihilistic”, begins in similarly-pummelling fashion. The band begins to add in more atmospheric elements with this track, occasional bleary, reverb heavy guitar allows the listener to briefly catch their breath before the next crushing blow. “Misanthropic” kicks off with a buzzing black metal attack which is a slap in the face after the snail-paced crawl of the previous tracks. This is only a brief respite though as before long Cult of Occult are wading through treacle once more whilst maintaining the blackened atmosphere from the intro. Hopefully the band revisit and expand on this black metal side during future releases as elements of this track offer a tantalising glimpse of their wider sonic arsenal.
“Psychotic” emerges from the spaced-out conclusion of “Misanthropic” with a few minutes of glorious droning amplifier worship. The black metal atmosphere continues as a menacing tremolo picked riff emerges from the fog which later returns as an eerie, distant keyboard reprise. “Satanic” brings proceedings to a close, beginning with hysterical declarations of war on Jesus, God and everything before grinding out one last serving of punishment.
Despite being a lengthy record at 65 minutes, “Five Degrees of Insanity” is engaging throughout and strangely addictive, particularly given its relentless nature and glacial pace. This is a thoroughly unpleasant listen in the best possible way.”
ABSTRACTER wound empire LP
“Abstracter are back with their second LP of sludged out, doom-laden, blackened crust. Back in 2010 guitarist Robin Kahn and vocalist Mattia Alagna, formed the project with the intent of being a noise duo that would never record or play live. Lucky for us they added drummer Ben James and bassist Jose Picou to round out the lineup and record their wonderful debut Tomb of Feathers. Both Ben and Jose have been replaced by Emad Dajani on drums and Donovan Kelley on bass for the upcoming Wound EmpireLP to be released in February.
Abstracter has picked up right where they left off with 4 lengthy tracks of dark, gloomy, sludge fueled psychedelia. Opening track “Lightless” sets the tone, it’s bleak slow beginning builds to a swirling black metal frenzie that collapses into a sludgy doom riff that is so heavy its weight can be felt in your chest. It then circles back around, keeping the listeners attention. This formula works very well for the band. Although these are longer tracks, all clocking in just over or slightly under 10 minutes, they keep your attention. What I really like on Wound Empire is the ever present psychedelic undertone. I guess the noise experimentation that was the basis of this band shines through when the psychedelia oozes through the tracks like lava engulfing the landscape, turning everything to ash. Another aspect of the music that Abstracter has good command of is using melody quite well to build that epic feel before it destroys everything with a heavy sludge riff. This can be heard throughout the albums four tracks as well.
With all the different styles that the band displays, they never seemed forced and maintain a steady flow. Because of this the listener never loses focus, even through the slower and noisier sections. Abstracter have created one of the more solid releases of this style of music that I have heard. The execution is damn near perfect and the production is superb. With Wound Empire they have built upon their debut and surpassed it in every way. I hope that they keep progressing and building upon their sound. This album is like several natural disasters happening at once to apocalyptic proportions. Volcanoes erupting during an earthquake while a typhoon causes a tidal wave that destroys everything in its wake. The end is near and Wound Empire is the soundtrack.”
WHITEHORSE raised into darkness LP
THOU heathen 2xLP
hammer smashed sound:
“THOU is one of the heaviest sludge bands that anyone has ever heard. But it must be noted that while Heathen is Thou’s heaviest work to date, the album is also their most melodic and beautiful. They have channeled their songwriting capabilities into creating one of the most monumental metal albums in existence, weaving soft, melodic passages and prosaic, often ecstatic lyrics into the crawling, resplendently heavy riff-laden metal that they’ve been known for. And this is no mere collection of songs; this is a cohesive and ambitious record that, while centered, covers a variety of topics and emotions.
In the true spirit of the record and the band’s DIY punk ethics, I should keep this in perspective and note that the album isn’t necessarily about creating something historic in scope or magnitude; it is simply focused on harnessing the freedom, hope, and despair of right now. Both the musical and lyrical approach of the record is to concentrate on what is, giving little thought to what has been or what might be. The present is all that exists. If you need convincing on this, wait until you hear the album opening “Free Will” and the penultimate track, “Immorality Dictates.” If you don’t agree after hearing these, consider yourself a lost cause.
I’ve spent a lot of time with this album, and have played it probably 15-20 times, and I can honestly say that it gets better every single time. And it’s not that I’m finding something new each time I listen to it – it just reminds me of where I am and what I’m doing, and what I’m doing is listening to a perfect record. I sincerely believe that there is nothing that Thou could have done to make this a better record.”
WHITEHORSE / NEGATIVE STANDARDS split LP
“It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Aussie heavies Whitehorse, but they’ve returned on this split with East Bay grinders Negative Standards, Whitehorse’s contribution to the split a sidelong sprawl of downtuned miserablism, a song that takes WH’s usual knuckle dragging tarpit doom sludge, and adds some insectoid black buzz, the swirling fast picked guitar weaving a strange backdrop to the band’s monstrous lumber, bellowed vokills and caveman drum crush, the song droning and tranced out, devolving into a killer stretch of power electronics midway through, a field of garbled static and solid state feedback, before lurching back into action, slipping right back into an epic sonic trudge, that like past jams, sounds a bit like a more abject, slo-mo Godspeed, before returning to that opening black metal riff to finish things off.
We had never heard, or even heard of Negative Standards before, even though they hail from across the Bay, but they definitely make a good match for Whitehorse, their sound not doomy as much as crusty and grindy, opening with an extended intro of blackened ambience, and swirling FX, before launching into some fierce D-beat pound, lurching from crusty churn, to furious fastcore grind and back again, the vocals a seriously sick demonic rasp, the sound relentless, until the doomy midsong breakdown, the song slipping easily into slo-mo, downtuned creep, all knuckle dragging pound that evolves into some near Neurosis level epicry, before exploding into one final salvo of blasting, grinding fury. Things finish off with a short sharp burst of crusty grind, beginning with a brief blast of static/feedback power electronics, before exploding into some frenzied metallic crush, the relentless blasting crust, peppered with a few seconds of seriously spaced out doom midway through. Killer artwork from Sutekh Hexen’s Kevin Gan Yuen!”
SVFFER s/t 7″
the elementary revolt:
SVFFER is a four piece band from Münster and Bielefeld, Germany who formed in 2013. SVFFER play a killer hybrid of hardcore, punk, crust, and volatile. Musically, SVFFER features buzzsaw guitars, rapidfire drumming and caustic/scathing female vocals. Musically, SVFFER calls to mind bands such as Suffering Mind, Cursed, Integrity, and Pariso. This is the band’s debut four song 7″. The thing that really caught my attention is how SVFFER seamlessly jumps back and fourth between different genres of hardcore without batting an eye. Overall, this seven inch is brutal as fuck and is SVFFER is sure to please fans of hardcore, crust, and powerviolence.
TREES sickness in LP
Portland (Oregon – USA) has definitely become one of the most prolific and interesting doom scenes around. So many cool heavy bands come from there …Trees band does belong to that scene as well. Trees are a quartet devoted to an obscure, mastodonic, gut-wrenching music style amenable to be tagged as funeral/depressive, blackened drone doom-sludge metal, in the vein of such bands as Corrupted, SunnO))), Khanate, Moss, and so on. Trees’ line-up includes J. Krausbauer on bass, B. Holloway on drums, C. Johnson on guitars and, not least, L. Smith, who is contributing extremely suffering vocal parts, quite different from his performances in the other cool band from Portland he belongs to, Atriarch.
Similarly to the previous releases, Sickness In includes two monumental tracks that will keep what the title promised: you’ll plunge into a state of toxic and foggy darkness, of fierce sickness, a black tunnel along which you’ll proceed with huge difficulty and which has no light at its bottom. This will last for for about 28 minutes unless you are going to unplug your music player and in case you are able to come out of the sick hypnotic state induced by the music …With Trees and their two long tracks, “Cover Your Mouth” and “Perish”, you are going to suffer slowly and drowning into the cacophony of the pitchblack swamp of feedback. Almost solid vibrations of the achingly slow, ultra-distorted mastodonic riffs, L. Smith’s torn and evil invocations and the ritualistic slowness of drums and percussions will emerge from that feedback swamp like greasy bubbles of venomous gases. Yet there is a leading melody, some sort of groove emanating from the riffs, even if such melody tends to be swallowed by the psychotic and rumbling vortex of the drony background noise. When this happens the tracks seem to be governed by improvisation. However our animal mind is able to recognize the dull roars of the distorted doomy riffs as its own atavic language and eventually attention will not be lost in the obscure sonic chaos.
In such conditions, therefore, the insertion of atmospheric ambience is more than proper. For their heavy, ritual and minimalistic music Trees guys adopted atmospheric sounds that cope with majesty, like, for example, the peculiar and impressive chant emitted by the Tibetan monks. Such chanting can be caught in the long intro to the second track, “Perish” and represents a further link with band Atriarch and their great latest album.
In the intro of Perish the echoing Tibetan monk chanting is ghostly and almost irreal, but it is able to stand out over the noise created by the shrieking of the guitars, the low rumbling of the bass and the crushing and reverbered percussions. When those chants vibrate the black tunnel opens up and you are ejected into an airy infinity. But such vertigo is going to last a few moments. Then your mind and your body will be thrown back into the darkness, filth and pain narrated by Trees’ devastating music. If Noothgrush sound as too fast and happy to you, if you live on Corrupted, SunnO))), Khanate, Moss, as well as Stumm, Hell, Monarch, and if you get high on the blackened drone-doom moments in Reclusa (another of the mean Crucial Blast creatures), then get hold of Trees and draw out the suffering of your agony …
FELL VOCIES regnum saturni 2xLP
This is something of a landmark release for Fell Voices as it’s the first one they’ve bothered to christen with an actual title. Their previous two full-lengths were self-titled and ‘Untitled’, while their 2008 ‘Demo’ and subsequent split with Ash Borer also carried no actual handle, as such.
‘Regnum Saturni’ showcases Fell Voices’ first new recordings in three years and is their first release to boast more than two songs. The three tracks on this album add up to almost 61 minutes so it would clearly be churlish of me to point out that there is nothing but a worthless etching on Side D. Except I just did. One of my pet hates, that, even if it is sometimes unavoidable.
I’ve been championing these guys for so long that I almost forgot how essentially underground they are. When I first started to listen to opening gambit ‘Flesh From Bone’, I was utterly taken aback by the dull, dense sound and the fact that the music was refusing to reveal itself fully to me. It’s not as instantly-catchy as the band’s previous work and I needed more time than usual to digest the album.
Eventually, the true brilliance of what Fell Voices does revealed itself to me yet again in blinding revelatory streaks of light or something and I realised that the Americans had conjured yet another awesome work of majestic, ambient, Cascadian Black Metal. Glad they have resisted the urge to sell out…
While I don’t consider ‘Regnum Saturni’ to be Fell Voices’ best work, it is nonetheless well worthy of its place in one of modern-day Black Metal’s most impressive discographies.
BATILLUS concrete sustain LP
Concrete Sustain is a 35-minute journey into the harsh industrial wastelands of Doom/Sludge Metal. As Batillus have embraced their industrial metal parts like never before to portray an unflinching world at war with itself. Everything is played at a mid-paced tempo to match the harsh cold atmospherics lurking underneath the albums exterior.
First track – Concrete – is aptly named as everything is loud, heavy, cold and leaves you with a bleak grey mood throughout. However, you cannot deny who brilliantly the song is put together with ambient glitches and noises blended with superb vocals tearing through your pitiful world. As the song frequently shouts – DOMINATE and DOMINATE they do from here now in.
Up next is Beset another devastating journey that Batillus take you on. Noises and riffs are your guide through the bleak territories the band easily conjures up at will. Harsh grizzled vocals and ambient-based industrial riffs make this another unsettling journey into the realm of Batillus. The landscape is bleak, harsh and frightening just like their music. The eight mins does feature an impressive and vast array of sounds and ambient noises that fit brilliantly well within Batillus’ blend of Doom/Sludge Metal.
You can tell this is an album that Batillus took their time with, as a sublime riff comes out of nowhere around the 5 minute mark to give the listener that little bit of hope amongst the darkness and ruins around them. But alas, it is a short respite before the loud angrier Batillus shine through to claim the listener’s soul for their own.
That is how Concrete Sustain plays out for the remaining 5 songs. Bleak Industrial based Sludge/Doom Metal riffs with a great apocalyptic vibe. The band builds up the tension and atmosphere on each song before all heck breaks loose. Adding more terrifying layers of sound with creepy lyrics to match. None more so on Mirrors. This song will surely give you chills and nightmares for many days to come.
This is an album that might take you a few listens to get the full effect as Batillus have truly evolved with their sound from Furnace. Sounds and noises come at you from nowhere in the vast darkness Batillus have offer on here. Concrete Sustain is an album that is truly alive. They have added a dark demented soul to their music and it is not a pretty sight.
Batillus have taken another almighty step towards greatness. Concrete Sustain is a phenomenal release and one that should rightly see Batillus winning more plaudits than ever before.
CHILDREN OF GOD we set fire to the sky LP
“Is there anything worse than listening to someone saying that nowadays no band is worth your time? That everything original and mindblowing has been said and done a while ago? Curious how those people are exactly the ones who never dig beyond the surface; who limit themselves by just breathing the same old dust of the mainstream outlets. Let’s take a little break to think about how much we’re blessed for not being like that and for having access to records like this one from Children of God. Okay, time to proceed.
We Set Fire To The Sky is raised upon a latent desperation, an uncontrollable urge to tear up the discomfiture caused by the unceasing suffocation, even if only for 28 minutes. The outcome is far from being something non-structured, something where the hate just piles on itself and drives at the maximum speed. Contrariwise, this LP is so well thought out and, yes, you have the crusty smashup, but more than that: you are presented with some of the greatest atmospheric passages of recent times for a non-post/black metal band.
As soon as you meet this record’s second track, Awaken, you are guided through a journey where you experience the tribalist insanity of the early Neurosis (that ending percussion reminds you nothing but Through Silver In Blood) only to end up, minutes after, in an Unrelenting Storm. Could this song be more self-descriptive? Brilliant tempo nuances, a straining build-up and a final burst that would make Amenra nod their heads in concordance. You’d have to be stone-hearted to not feel unsettled by the hopelessness of the piercing screams you hear during Offer and to not sense the tension rising with the storm announcer To The Sky (I) and (II) – moments once again capable of making you think about what’s being done in the Belgium scene lately and what the Swiss Time To Burn have created before splitting up.
The most challenging thing in We Set Fire To The Sky is its unpredictability: it is grueling to guess what is about to happen in the next few seconds, being the almost seven minutes of Where Do They Go a summary example. You are painfully conquered by the d-beat passages, wounded by the subsequent blast beats, only to be ritually buried by the hands of the apparently calm ending passages – all this in the same song.
Too much jumbling? No, everything fits perfectly and that is an enormous triumph by Children of God. One of the most impressive records of 2013, no matter what happens in the next months.”
The Orange County hardcore/sludge band’s newest aural offering, and their first full-length, is one of the most relentlessly intense records of 2013 so far and likely to be for the rest of the year. This intensity is mirrored by some changes in the band themselves, particularly in the fact that they have chosen to release the record entirely on their own, and according to the band they really tried to push the limits for this one.
“Since this band’s inception we have always tried to evolve and progress in our sound and this release is the next chapter in this band’s search for something more” – so read a recent blog post from the band and it couldn’t be more true. We Set Fire To The Sky is something more. Meshing grinding hardcore with brooding sludge, there are moments on this album that sound like [R]evolution of a Sun or Black Monolith only to be contrasted by sludgier shades like Old Man Gloom and there’s an undeniable sheen of Neurosis influence at play here too. It results in a 30 minute barrage of indescribable anguish and vitriol but also invigorating catharsis, evidenced by the opening grinding salvo of ‘Destroy Belief’ soon combated by the eerie and melancholic ‘Awaken’.
With themes of personal and social isolation, We Set Fire To The Sky is drenched in feelings of unease, desperation and trepidation. This is no more evident than with the seven minute album centrepiece, ‘Where Do They Go?’, first starting with creeping whispers that erupt into a hail of devastating riffing and almost d-beat aggression, which is intent on leaving you reeling and as a dizzying miasma takes control, the album closer, ‘Unknown’, ends the record on a deliriously unforgiving and dissonant note.
If there’s one way to describe We Set Fire To The Sky, it’s imposing. It’s a theme backed up by the LP’s artwork, which masters the art of saying so much with so little. Its design doesn’t give away much detail as to the sounds and vibes held within the record, which would be difficult to justly articulate. It’s a record that grinds and pummels but also mesmerises and enthrals, all in equal measure.
VYST bad news travel slowly 12″
VYST is a four piece band from Leipzig, Germany who formed in 2009. VYST plays an absolutely brutal style of music that incorporates elements of blackened/metallic hardcore, punk, and modern crust within their sound. VYST cites bands that include Backstabbers Inc., Majority Rule, Kylesa, Mastodon, Trail Of Dead, His Hero Is Gone, and Cursed as influences. Since their formation in 2009, VYST has released a three song demo in 2009, and a 9 song LP entitled Try Again. Fail Again. keep On Trying. Keep On Living. Gain While Giving in January of 2012. Bad News Travels Slowly is the band’s latest four song 12″ EP. Overall, these four songs are dark, pissed, and brutal as fuck. Fans of modern metallic hardcore/crust bands such as Protestant, Enabler, All Pigs Must Die, Rot In Hell, Throwers, and You Wretch really need to give VYST a listen. Killer 12″, to say the least.
THE AUSTRASIAN GOAT paved intentions 2xLP
don’t count on it reviews:
Julien Louvet’s project The Austrasian Goat has been one of the most consistently interesting projects to emerge from the funeral doom genre in recent years. With each new release expanding his own sonic universe and playing around with various genres all the while never alienating his audience. This new album popped up on Bandcamp a couple of months back and really threw me for a loop when I first gave it a spin.
Since I have not heard every single piece of material that The Austrasian Goat has released, you’ll understand if you look at all the splits that the project has been a part of, I can’t say with certainty that this is Louvet’s first exploration into the world of neo-folk, but what I can say is that he does a very convincing job of it. As much as I love metal, neo-folk is a style of music that I have developed a great fondness for in recent years and I was extremely surprised when I first put on this record and that was what I heard. The previous black metal and funeral doom outings that this project has released have all been rather well done and have earned the project some well deserved praise from those who listen, but just because you’re good at playing fast or playing really slow doesn’t mean that you know how to write good songs or even write songs on acoustic instruments. Personally, I’ve always found The Austrasian Goat’s more metal outings to be more intriguing than engaging, they keep me interested, but I can’t say that I’ve ever found them to be particularly memorable once an album ends. This, on the other hand, was quite the little gem.
These songs recall that really genuine sense of melancholy that the project’s most powerful doom metal pieces conveyed but without all the distortion. It’s somber and very morose, in some ways almost heartbreakingly so, but it’s kept at a level which is very accessible to anyone who’s already a fan of the genre. Whether it happens to be the very pensive and hypnotic Nizkor or the more minimal melancholy of Curtain or the spacey and ambient Reality Is A Miserable Dream, I was really impressed with Louvet’s handling of the genre. The twelve songs that make up this record all maintain that same dour atmosphere and mood, but each track brings with it a slightly different array of ideas. Along with that, and I guess this is to be expect in the genre, but there is also an array of instruments used on here, from the standard acoustic guitar and piano to what sounds like glass jugs and timpani. Obviously that’s not all of them and there’s a plethora of various synths used on here as well, but it’s just so refreshing to hear someone take on board unconventional instruments and make them more than just another sound in a song.
I think that this is a really well developed piece of work that really is something special. In a world where so many metal and rock artists think trying out acoustic music (folk in this case) is easy to do, this album shows just how powerful and well crafted it should be done and sets a new bar in quality for these sorts of albums from metal artists. Definitely check this album out if you’re a fan of neo-folk or just pensive and melancholic music in general.
Overall Score: 8.5
Highlights: Ban The Hours, Broken Yad, Reality Is A Miserable Dream
BLACK SHAPE OF NEXUS s/t LP
Vendetta finally have taken the plunge and repressed this minor doom metal classic from Mannheim’s B.son. Originally released in 2007, “Black Shape of Nexus” pre-dates the band’s splits with Crowskin and Kodiak. There are three epic tracks on here, all slow and incredibly heavy, yet diverse and engaging. The massive “V”, clocking in at 21 minutes, takes the listener through droning stasis, grooving slow-motion and devious blues-mutilation (there is one passage that always has me think of the Melvins’ “Boris”). “III” and “IV” on the a-side feature Malte Seidel’s tormented vocals and hint at the band’s hardcore affinities. While “Black Shape of Nexus” is arguably a doom metal album and its downtempo trod is driven by distorted, syrupy riffing, it also nods to Bohren’s introspective waiting games (cf the first minutes of “IV”) and to hardcore realisms. Hailing from one of Germany’s most blatantly working-class cities, B.son play their doom without the dwarves.
As much as we love us some ultra doom, some seriously sick slowness, you know, that doooooom, that is so glacial, that the songs begin to crumble and ooze into viscous black pools. We do. But sometimes we just want our doom to ROCK. Sounds contrary but it’s been known to happen. Doom can be slow and low and still rock. Take B.Son for example. Whose particular brand of doomic energy is drawn from bands like Harvey Milk, Karp, The Melvins, godheadSilo, more a sort of downtuned propulsive sludge with doom elements, than pure doom. But goddamn if it isn’t just as brutal and heck, doomy… Thick ropy buzzbass, pounding destructo drums, throaty howls, grinding guitars, all lurching and swaying like some drugged and demented superrock doombeast, all filtered through a bit of grinding screamo and some buzzed out metallic blackness.
There are moments of blisssed out post rockiness, and weird laid back grooves, stretched out near ambience and dense little mathy jams, but those moments just serve to keep the doomed sludge rock fury from becoming too much. Produced by James Plotkin. Spiffy black and gold sleeves.
REIVERS “sympathetic shock”
Here is some kickass, angry, fast political hardcore from USA. The band, Reivers, is from Oakland, California, is rather recent (they have a 2011 EP out on Vittriol Records) and involves folks from other cool US bands devoted to dark hardcore, sludge and crossover: i.e., Graf Orlock, Negative Standards, Acts Of Sedition and Salted Earth.
Their name, Reivers, comes from an old English word meaning “robbers”.
Reivers’ tracks are short, fast, aggressive, corrosive and pissed off or very angry, like an angry woman can be! Because a peculiar feature of the band is the female vocalist. So it is a cool change from the majority of the hardcore bands around. The band’s style encompasses various genres like hardcore, punk and fast, thrashy metal. Similarities have been drawn between Reivers and bands like San Francisco’s Punch or Boston’s The Conversions and Suicide File. I would also add Appalachian Terror Unit for good measure.
In any case, cool stuff.
Here’s another killer LP that recently came out that I had to review and post after seeing on the web. Reivers is a band from Oakland, California who formed in 2010. Reivers features members of Acts Of Sedition, Negative Standards, and Graf Orlack. Reivers play a highly corrosive and volatile style of music that incorporates elements of hardcore, punk, metal, and thrash into a seething, paint peeling and mind-blowing twelve track offering. One of the main things that really set Reivers apart from the pack is the female vocalist. The singer’s vocals remind me of Conversions at times, which is definitely a much needed change of pace because the majority of hardcore bands in the scene have male vocalists. I haven’t been this impressed by a band since Punch. Overall, Sympathetic Shock is a definite must listen for fans of angry sociopolitical female fronted hardcore. Highly recommended! Enjoy!
THROWERS “prosiac materialists/rudimentary bodies”
“Throwers is a new band from Lepzig, Germany featuring former members of Vyst and DeZafra Ridge. Throwers play a great style of blackened, dark, metallic, and crust influenced hardcore that’s become synonomous with Germany. Bands such as Alpinist, Planks, Black Freighter, Perth Express, etc. have come from the scene that now includes Throwers. I was unfamiliar with the band member’s pervious bands, but I was thoroughly impressed by the four songs included on this 10″. Throwers draws from the influences of the bands listed above, but do so in a way that keeps this 10″ from sounding like it’s a rehash of the bands mentioned above. Overall, Prosiac Materialists/Rudimentary Bodies makes for a great listen. Keep your eyes peeled for this release, which is slated for release this May on Vendetta records. Throwers is required listening for fans of Geranium, All Pigs Must Die, and Ruined Families. Highly recommended! Enjoy!”
WHITEHORSE / BATILLUS split LP
“Here’s another great record that’s been spending a lot of time on my turntable lately and I absolutely had to do this post after hearing this LP. This latest LP comes courtesy of Vendetta records and features two of the scene’s heavyweights in the doom, metal, and sludge scene. Batillus is a band from New York who play a great style of cold post metal influenced doom metal and sludge. These two new songs pick up where the band left off on their Furnace LP, which was released in 2011. Australia’s Whitehorse is a band I was unfamiliar with until this LP. Whitehorse give us one song of brutal and corrupted sludge and doom. Vendetta has brought the goods on this LP. Amazing release to say the least. Another highly recommended release. Enjoy!”
ASH BORER “demo” LP:
“Okay – I realise it’s only got two songs and I know it’s only 25 minutes long (nearly) but I still couldn’t resist the temptation of snapping up this demo of three years hence once I heard it was available in the glorious vinyl format. Hats off to German label Vendetta for making it happen! Ash Borer is one of the more-interesting bands in the global Black Metal pool at the moment – their split with Fell Voices and debut (self-titled) LPbeing mandatory – so it was intriguing to take a listen back to their embryonic stirrings.
First off, this sounds like a demo, quite trebly and wobbly at times. Having said that, the production is still pretty damned decent and the melodic parts are crisp, clear and concise. Side A comprises ‘Drukne’, which ranges between harsh and mellow passages, a beautiful helping of prime AB which is easily as good as most of what you’ll hear on a proper album this or any other year.
On Side B, we have ‘Untitled’. Fucking unreal really how many bands are coming up with untitled songs and albums these days. Seems to be the trendy thing. How long before we have an untitled person? Anyway, the song with no name outstrips most nameless, faceless entities I’ve encountered in my lifetime and completes a really, really fine record that sounds to my ears like an improved (i.e. more stripped-down) version of WITTR.
This isn’t overly-expensive to buy, either, and it looks nice in its one-sheet folding jacket. So, all in all, a worthy investment for sure.”
NEGATIVE STANDARDS “VI-XI”:
“We were introduced to these East Bay crust metal crushers via a split lp with Aussie heavies and long time aQ faves Whitehorse (reviewed elsewhere on this week’s list), but this right here is the Negative Standards’ first proper full length, a relentless and furious onslaught of churning D-beat crust punk and epic, chugging, Neurosis style sludge metal heaviness.
No song titles just numbers, tracks I through V can be found on their debut ep, and tracks XII and XII are on the split with Whitehorse, but “VI” though “XI” make up this 12″, and deliver a punishing barrage of sick riffage, and skull caving drum damage, and the vocals, a throat shredding demonic bellow, the whole thing a brutal chug fest, songs lurching from driving crust punk, furious and chaotic to tarpit, downtuned doom sludge crush, with some super blown out weirdness that gives the sound a seriously psychedelic vibe, the band equally adept at knuckle dragging, pit stirring, ferocity, and soaring, majestic sonic epicry, just check out the 8+ minute “X”, which spends the first half of those minutes, unfurling a gorgeously morose and melancholic true doom crawl, moody and mesmerizing, somewhere between Bell Witch and True Widow, slowcore downer doom, that creeps and lumbers, before exploding into a noise drenched, punk metal blast, those two disparate sound somehow fusing together for the last few minutes, the guitars soaring, the arrangement a slow build toward a Godspeed / Neurosis style crescendo, but still punk as fuck, and seriously crusty. Killer stuff. Every track here, some sort of black-crust / punk-doom hybrid, that we can’t get enough of. Not sure how we’d never heard of these guys before, but doing our best to make up for it now.
Released on the always great Vendetta label, with a super striking, creepy dead body / surveillance photo album cover.”
maximum rock’n roll:
“Somehow i still have not seen this band live which, after hearing this LP, I’m led to believe is the best way to experience them (they use TV’s live to add a visual element). This is really heavy, down-tuned, crust played and produced with precision. While i don’t care for this style so much, i do appreciate any offering that creates and upholds a certain a certain feel the way this LP does. NEGATIVE STANDARDS give us a look at things through a bleak scope with tense lyrics, disharmonic melodies and cold imagery. I’ve known a couple of these guys for several years and it’s worth mentioning that tey are truly great, active, stand up punkers. This is an excellent effort all around. For fans of stuff from TRAGEDY to REMAINS OF THE DAY to COUNTERBLAST – do not miss out on this. (MA)”
“On the triple real, it’s fucking hard to describe how gnarly the Bay Area’s Negative Standards are. From the very first time I heard them, I was like, these humans must drink we-are-out-to-destroy-all juice for breakfast! The killer news is that they have just released a full-length on Vendetta Records entitled VI-XI, and it’s all that and a bag of crusty chips. Negative Standards are champions when it comes to creating tunes that are thick and extra heavy with power. When I listen to this band, I feel like Popeye after he eats his spinach – my muscles are growing as the baselines move through my bloodstream. Negative Standards’ vocalist has a style that is all of his own, and that’s another reason why they must be recognized as one of the sickest bands in America. The tunes that this band comes up with are fucking unreal, but it’s the hidden black magic under the riffs that is the caustic glue. I can’t forget that these humans are wizards at beating the song down until it becomes a breakdown that you never want to end. Negative Standards will poke you in the eyes with swords of emotion dipped in mayhem. This album is straight classic, and it’s my job to let the world know about this band! Check this out – the band have just started a 2012 U.S./Quebec Tour, peep the tour dates after the jump. Also, stay tuned for a Negative Standards Sonic Cathedrals dropping any day now. VI-XI is streaming below, press play, and crush kill destroy stress!!!”
“Hell yes here’s the new album from Negative Standards. Negative Standards are a band from Oakland, CA featuring former members of Acts Of Sedition and Kentucky Fried Doom. Last year I reviewed and posted the band’s I-V EP and I’ve been hooked ever since. Negative Standards play an amazing style of music that combines elements of hardcore, crust, sludge, and d-beat heaviness. If you were a fan of the band’s earlier material then you’ll be totally blown out of the water by their latest LP. Negative Standard’s new album features six new songs of dark, metallic, and negative sounding music that’s sure to be a hit for people into bands such as Hammers, Alpinist, Cursed, and Tragedy. Out of respect for the band I’m only streaming the album via the band’s bandcamp page. This new album is amazing and is sure to be on many year end lists. Another great addition to the roster of amazing bands released by Vendetta records”
While not necessarily Foxy Digitalis’ daily bread, this hardcore energy overdose ranks among the most aggressive recordings I’ve heard in years. Recorded in as many days, the six numbered tracks appear to burst out of the vinyl as soon as the needle hits its surface. It’s entirely impossible to follow the lyrics in the full-colour, eight-panel booklet as the tracks and the hoarse shouting are just too fast. The occasional mid-tempo section provides a much-needed breather but still, it’s over all too soon. There can be little doubt that “VI.VII.VIII.IX.X.XI” is better than whatever metallized hardcore Southern Lord have put out in recent years. I will track down Negative Standards’ debut 10” as well.
THE AUSTRASIAN GOAT / HALLOWED BUTCHERY split
“One in a continuing string of split eps on various formats, this nicely presented 10” on Vendetta sees The Austrasian Goat and Hallowed Butchery share a conceptually ambitious release. Unusually for a split release, this one bears a title, “Songs of Self Reliance and Solitude”. Indeed, both are solo projects and the lyrics ponder – the label informs us – on “the moral stance of self-reliance, popularized and preached by the Transcendentalist movement of the 19th-century”. Indeed, there is a tendency towards abstract nouns in The Austrasian Goat’s lyrics (“ostracity”, “obedience”, “conformism”) whereas Hallowed Butchery’s Ryan Fairfield is more into adjectives (“self-reliant”, “self-righteous”) during its programmatic passages. All of which makes for very abstract and sometimes tedious reasoning (“There is perfect balance always.” – “Pyramids are falling under the weight of ambitions.”), which may or may not be in keeping with the subject matter but certainly is a perfect match for the three washed-out doom metal dirges.
Both Fairfield and Julien Louve a.k.a. the Goat contribute to each other’s tracks, which helps to knit the ep even more closely together. Musically, however, “Songs of Self Reliance and Solitude” juxtaposes two distinctive takes on the genre: While the two Austrasian Goat tracks are more in the orthodox ‘funereal’ vein and have been correctly compared to Nortt and Celestiial, Hallowed Butchery serves up another prime example of his shoegazing doom epics in “Hexagram: The God of Self”. Gloriously, he doesn’t shy away from an acoustic interlude, while elsewhere manipulated vocals for several voices add space and new perspectives on title and concept. While the whole ep is decent, I’d rate the Hallowed Butchery side higher. Fairfield continues to be one of the most original players in the field. And while his output is sparse (debut lp in 2009, a demo tape of 20 minutes from 2009/2010, two tracks on a split lp in 2010, this single track from 2011), his quality control appears to be fierce.”
CROWSKIN “black lava”:
“Solid doom metal from Potsdam, Germany’s Crowskin here, complete with Stefan-Georgian lyrics in German, which might actually be easier to appreciate if you don’t speak the language. “Es brennt bis in’s Herz / Und stetig drückt es ab / Vielfältig strebend zehrend / Tropft es herab,” well. For those into the more sublime fields of poetry, the words of “Marche Funèbre Op. IX (De profundis clamavi)” come from an English translation of Baudelaire.
Black Lava is Crowskin’s debut album proper, after split releases with B.son and Black Shape of Nexus. I like the album best when it switches into a galloping trash mode, as for example midway through album opener “Du sollst bersten.” It is predictably grim, slow and brutal, not totally original but highly effective and well-produced. The vocals of Alexandra von Bolz’n are frankly incredible but otherwise this is a decent, not outstanding album that cannot – for my money, at least – compete with other recent releases on the excellent Vendetta label (think Velnias, Hallowed Butchery, Thou, Salome, and others). That said, Black Lava is moving slowly and it will certainly be interesting to see where Crowskin are going from here. Vinyl only, priced in true punk rock spirit (how is it even possible to sell a well-pressed record, complete with thick outer and printed inner sleeves at a mere 10 euros?), and recommended to fans of the genre.”
HALLOWED BUTCHERY “funeral rites for the living”:
“Hallowed Butchery’s Funeral Rites For The Living is one of those CD’s that mysteriously made its way into my collection without me knowing how or why. I remember someone sent it to me once, a few months back possibly, but I have no recollection of who that someone is or was. It may even have been one of those benign guardian angels, I’ve heard they are pretty active once again these days.
Anyway, Hallowed Butchery is pretty cool. Mr. Fairfield claims to take influence from bands ranging from Black Sabbath to Johnny Cash and back to Melvins, passing Cocteau Twins and T. Rex along the way. While I’m sure he enjoys all these (great) bands, the end result has more in common of Funeral Doom á la Tyranny blended in with a good deal of Sludge, various hysteric movie samples and the occasional odd part.
Those ill-willed could argue that the album doesn’t really have a story to it, that it doesn’t really go anywhere. And it is a fact that this album does not contain ‘songs’, or a musical red thread. In fact, this album is pretty random, but I believe it is random intentionally so. Like a carnival bizarre, sections of groaning angry sludge morph into warm acoustic strumming, while moments later tribal drums and symphonics take over and push the wall of sound sky high, to later dissolve into a Neil Young cover that leaves you with that particular feeling you have after having been drugged up and drugged out for way too long. That is, in a nutshell, this album, and it’s musically deranged and innovative structure is what I so greatly appreciate. If you’re in for this, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy this grande collage of various extreme and estranging sounds. For some every musical idea that is portrayed is too short-lived, but to me it adds to the schizophrenic nature of the album.
Besides that, the musicianship is top-notch and the impressive atmosphere Mr. Fairfield puts up all by himself is quite a feat. Even the production has been taken care of wonderfully – Hallowed Butchery doesn’t settle for half-done work, it seems. Every instrument blends nicely in with the others, nothing tones sound out-of-context or misplaced and when the need is there the sound is downright majestic.
It seems this album has been out for a quite a while, but there hasn’t been much attention for it. Quite unfair in my humble opinion – but I have my fingers crossed that the next release (if?) will be as good or better and will stir the waters o’ doom with greater force. And I’m pretty damn sure it will.”
“I’m listening to this album for the fourth time before I start writing anything about it. It’s a Sunday morning (well 3pm), I’m bleary-eyed hungover to hell and I’m moments from seizing up in a pile of my own vomit as “Abolish the Pulpit” comes on. The distorted background cackle quivers through the cracks and plays havoc with my sense of balance and each thudding note is like a shot to the gut from a ten tonne fist. This sounds like a midnight nightmare in the mind of Devin Townsend. Surviving the sickening evangelical samples is hard work and when it all finally implodes into a melt of gargling and synthesized screeching – I’m out.
Don’t be put off though, up until today Funeral Rites for the Living was a rich and rewarding experience. Today’s vulnerable incapacitation is merely a sentiment to the immersive grip of this debut from Maine’s Ryan Scott Fairfield, and his solo project Hallowed Butchery.
Macabre doom marches through riffs cast in fire and brimstone are the lifeline of this record, but don’t be surprised to find the roars burning up in the atmosphere around spiritual acoustic passages, tribal flickers, odious moments of discordant nothingness and other layers of undefinable chaos. Fairfield’s lyrics are thoughtful and personal, as he explores environmental themes with different shades of mournful singing and damning cries; tackling a hatred for christian extremity with the aforementioned voices of twisted preachers.
The whole situation is never too far from crashing back into the slow motion collisions of crashing cymbals and viciously deep growls, exiting with a particularly unique yet suitable cover of Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush”, honorably amplifying and continuing the subject of a dying earth to Hallowed Butchery proportions.
Whilst the main problem with this album is the proportionality of the section lengths, at thirty minutes long and thirty thoughts deep, Funeral Rites for the Living comes and goes all too fast. Reflection is futile and attention is demanded, as it is only truly in the moment can you appreciate and admire this colossal body of wrath that Fairfield has made and masterminded on his own.
So listen to it in good health.”
“Erik: Hallowed Butchery is the brainchild of a certain Ryan Farfield and my gosh, what an earthquake of sonic eruptions can this man produce! In just nine songs he grasps the essence of doom metal that is beyond anything I have heard in years! The fluent song structures, crazy musical ideas, deep philosophical thoughts, heartbroken passion, low tuned guitars and harsh programming in the vein of Ahab, Khanate, Earth and The Ocean are solely his! To top it all, he recorded it at home with the means he found there! He had a bit of help with some female vocals and some photography, but those are his wife’s!
The only person he let in to do the mastering was James Plotkin of O.LD. and Khanate fame. If James is related it does not say. The mentioned bands and plenty, actually thousands of others can learn a bit from this truly D.I.Y. initiative. This is the doom sensation of the summer! Just do not miss it because both the CD and the vinyl version are limited to five hundred copies each. You will thank me (and Ryan naturally) later!”