I know I'm late. Can't travel back in time, anyhow. If I had to, I'd say that 2010 took the cake in the sludge / slower department in general; bands like Thou, Harvey Milk, Cough, The Body, the new, improved version of Bastard Noise, and much, much more (and sure, I've missed some potentially ace / probably metal ones, e.g. the new Immolation, but I don't really care to hear about it unless it's grind). Not to worry, though, 'cause I've suffered through a great lot of blastbeats anyhow. Deliberately ignoring a lot of titles like, uh, the new Rotten Sound EP, there was still a metric fuckton of boring, vapid, cliched material left to feed on my compulsive urges, so here's a belated New Year's Fuck You to myself. Before indulging into the humongous, cryptic pile of text below (an overview of 2010 releases without a rating system), stop idolizing and romanticizing whatever shit you like to listen to. If you wished to do so, you could download just about any of these releases by typing the band name, the title of the record, and the infamous "mediafire" into Google's indiscreet search bar. That said, on a personal note / in retrospect, the whole year seemed too fast for its own good, yet I've opaque imagery from France to Serbia to stand as its monument, with some old projects, some new ones, some finished (e.g. sketchgrind), some not, shitloads of books - and even more booze - behind, several notebooks still to transcribe, and many blastbeats scattered timelessly. Two thousand and ten, I'm gonna start with the fast shit and let it burn itself out!
/shiny grind - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[downright first class stuff]
Kill the Client - Set For Extinction
Not as abrasive, intense, or catchy as Cleptocracy, but Kill The Client is certainly still among the top of grindcore today, so now's the time to decide whether they want to become another Phobia or broaden their area of destruction. Slow down, add some melody, etc.? Fuck no. And stop sludging it up. I'm just looking at bands like Noisear and GridLink trying to become the blastbeat. Bryan Fajardo, you grind my gears. As for Witte, I hear he's playing with Black Army Jacket again, so hey, I'm not the one to wait for things to happen, but it's cool if they do.
Defeatist - The Sixth Extinction
I don't know what's up, but it's the relatively same story with Defeatist's Sixth Extinction; not as harsh, not as piercing. I mean, fuck off with the nicer, tamer sounds. That said, We get to hear the same irrationally angry band with a sense for groove similar to older Kill The Client, but with much weirder shit going on once you give it a the deserved amount of attention. Speaking of which, what's up with the whole "Extinction" deal? I don't know, but I'm gonna let it pass in favor of non-stop thrashing with the odd, fearlessly Discordance Axis-reminiscing hook.
Parlamentarisk Sodomi, Blodsprut - Split
Papirmøllen is back, albeit with what is probably the final Parlamentarisk Sodomi material. Don't be too sad, 'cause Psudoku doesn't fall much behind in intensity, handing out free kicks in the balls to anyone who thought that his (not at all) irrational anger against the cockroach infestation known as the (or a, as in, any) Parlament could weaken the slightest bit. Vote for Norway Blackened Grind! Blodsprut, on the other hand, churns out short noisegrind pieces showing love without shame for the good shit (like Arsedestroyer, Final Exit).
Swarrrm, Atka - Split
You know a grind band's established its reputation as goddamn weird when Tsukasa Harakawa's breakdown vocals on the opening song, Maborosi, barely make anyone flinch anymore (the "term" "emogrind" is silly enough to describe them nicely / doesn't pertain to screamo). The song's melody / motif seems to be a Swarrrm classic, as a very similar track already exists in their catalog (Hallu, on the 10" split with Dimlaia; I know my Swarrrm better than the calendar date). Maboroshieeeeeaah! Japanese crazies aside, German madgrind Atka employ insane circular riffs to paint the gruesome evolution of grind, putting the genre where it hasn't quite been, and they do this in such a way that it makes you wonder, "Well, why not"? If you enjoyed that free 6 track EP of theirs, there's no way that their sweet, untitled 5min contribution to the split can disappoint.
I Abhor, Wormrot - Split
Fairly old-school sounding, yet dissonantly modern (a bit of the old Assück violence?), better write down I Abhor as pretty sweet Los Angeles grindcore with a beautiful tin trashcan sound to the snare. Such things frequently remind me of Damage Digital and everything that is not St. Anger. Wormrot, the Singaporean kings of grind, merely continue their reign. I don't even know where to start, but, considering Abuse, they don't step it down in the slightest, starting with Fit's insane drumming, continuing with the wide-ranged vocals, down to the dis-tuned guitar. Coming soon, the second full-length, Dirge.
Sakatat - Splits with Cut Your Throat, Dispepsiaa
More people are slowly getting to hear Sakatat's savage, despondent noise - a good thing, 'cause grind is at its rawest when fueled by misery. Simply put, their stuff is a lesson in ferocity to each and every band claiming to play this sort of music; shit, they even do covers of all the right bands (Sore Throat, S.O.B.), and most of the bands that they did splits with impressed me in a similar manner. Cheers to Sakatat!
White Eyes - Aneurysm EP
Insane, Discordance Axis-worshipping German grind / noisegrind, to an extent. Their debut full-length, Beastmode, was certainly one of the best grind releases in 2009, whereas this thing, with a playing time of 2:26, shows an even shorter, faster, noisier, more urgent side of White Eyes. Excellent band, abrasive as fuck!
/assück - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[now playing: plutocracy - suckass]
Cellgraft - Deception Schematic
Florida's young DIY grindcore enthusiasts put out another slab of proper blasting, topping it off with a sweet, sweet cover of Assück's Civilization Comes, Civilization Goes, albeit as sparse in length as any other of their offerings (seven and something min.). This one wasn't free for download (namely, it was released on 7" by No Reprieve Records), unlike:
Cellgraft - External Habitation
A mere three to four minutes longer, yet melting a far greater number of faces compared to Deception Schematic. Grind happens when you forget writing sensible music and just thrash away, speed tickets included. What meaning has your comprehension of my riff while we're thrashing, eh? But I love noise, y'know, and the Cellgraft guys love Assück, Insect Warfare, the Napalm Death eras that make you wonder how anything with a breakdown / aesthetically oriented metal in-general gets dubbed "grindcore".
Worlds - Unforeseen Paths 7"
One letter away from Japanese noisecore extravaganza "World", Worlds are almost as noisy within less than six and a half minutes of destructive motives made obvious, stepping out with the self-confidence of previous bands and a fairly brutal 56k modem sound sure to make many listeners whine their fucking heads off. Concerning the "previous bands" remark + continuing the series of Assück worshipping bands from Florida, here's one with an actual Assück member, apparently (pretty sure it's not Pavlovich, so... Heritage? I dunno; the growling's not that distinctive, regardless to the noise that the record realistically contains. Who's Spinach? A third guy?). Also, Asshole Parade, they say, but I don't know these things for sure.
Amputee - Demo
What's up with all the hairy, manly, silly and nonsexual love for Assück? Whatever it is, it does me well. A lot of raw, quality bands growing like some berserk form of mushroom, this time from the garden state, New Jersey. All of 'em like doing ending covers, too, but it seems like Amputee make a sort of punk statement by covering Infest's "Sick and Tired". Similar to Cellgraft, this DIY ethic and all? I can get behind that.
/grind and powerviolence BFF - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[and ever: the eternal circle of the blastbeat]
Plutocracy - Off the Pigs 12" EP (heh, heh)
Well, it's been a decade since Sniping Pigz, but Plutocracy's manic grindviolence sure hasn't changed much. I hope for your sake that you're more than familiar with the forementioned album, as well as their early nineties stuff, including the 1995 split with Discordance Axis. Off the Pigs brings back the excellent use of samples, a track by Bastard Noise's Eric Wood, a bunch of blastbeats, and even some guest vocals from Agents of Satan's own Lord Ballsack. Never stop sücking ass!
Phobia - Unrelenting EP
The title says it all, really. Phobia's a grind band that everyone knows & most people enjoy - the sort of band that hasn't slowed down since 1990, now (well, it's been a while) with Fajardo sitting behind their drumkit (spinning on the seat like a whirligig, I assume). I still like "Grind Your Fucking Head In" best, though, 'cause it's the one closest to its title (meaning that I prefer Fuck What You Think to If You Used To Be Punk, Then You Never Were). Blastbeats, man! Haven't heard that split with Gadget yet.
Quattro Stagioni - S/T EP
Their split with Iron Lung is how I originally got to hear Quattro Stagioni. The mere speed of the spazz behind the kit is enough to make the sturdiest, most experience fastcore enthusiast cringe in fucking terror - 'nuff said.
Magrudergrind - Crusher EP
Fuck Magrudergrind and their pathetic justification, a band now claiming never to have been political. Naturally, this is hypocritical bullshit. Does anybody still remember the all too recent full-length, with tracks named, for example, "Rejecting the Militant Promise"? Forget about that and have some lyrics from, what, 2003? "America on Alert" from Don’t Support Humanitary Aid That’s Led by the Church: "Anthrax up your nostrils / icon of power falls dead / no reason for innocent death / fuck profit off of patriotism." So if it’s never been political, it’s been purely decorative. How wonderful is that considering other just as nice lyrics, such as (back to 2009, the S/T once again): "...live with integrity, honesty / and then happiness will prevail / your reputation destroyed / by your own ignorant actions." How about applying this to yourselves, eh? Not doing so would imply disgusting double standards. Arrogantly reshaping reality in regard to their own musical purity or whatever you want to call it (as of 2010), Magrudegrind have become a hollow Willowtip / Rotten Sounding grind clone anyway (as of 2009), yet one not even nearly comparable to bands like Kill the Client (Ibid.). Records like the Owned EP are the definition of love thrash, but this nostalgia seems ripe for decapitation.
Nails - Unsilent Death
Thought about putting them in the (pretty vague) hardcore section, but fuck, this is some heavy & heavily metallized grind with a penchant for the chug of modern hardcore. When describing the sound that Nails vomit forth, their record label does a pretty good job of mentioning Swedish death metal celebrities Entombed!
Throats - S/T
Vaguely powerviolent, Throats is somewhat similar to Nails, albeit much more on the hardcore punk side of things. Six tracks of ravaging thrash averaging at about two minutes each, except for the almost seven minutes long bass-heavy closer, Oaken/Wait. Throats raged and raged and now they’re dead.
Unholy Grave - Immortal Grind Legion, Grind Hell, Grind Killers, Blast Mayhem...
These guys just don't know when to stop. Might be a good thing, too. Unholy Grave are known to kick ass when they want to, yet the uninspired mid-tempo albums make the band as interesting as a new Head & Shoulders commercial. What have I to argue here, anyway? Half-assedness? This is a band with over one hundred records, a trait shared with:
Agathocles - This is Not a Threat, It's a Promise
Just another Agathocles record. Yeah, I could've said that for the Unholy Grave part, too, but I admit that I might like the fervent "anti-terrorist" of Japan just a little bit more. But hey, Agathocles is Agathocles, a truthful statement in itself (if for no other reason than faster bands being influenced by them).
Attack of the Mad Axeman - Animals of the Music Business
Err... I've not yet heard this. Based mostly on their 2009 full-length, Scumdogs of the Forest, Animals of the Music Business is bound to be good, good death-grind, anyhow, so I figured I'd just put it in here for others to check out.
Circle of Dead Children - Psalm of the Grand Destroyer
As much as I never really appreciated this side of grindcore, I could never really dislike CoDC's ugly death-grind, covered in sludge more rusty than fat. A lot of the band's "appeal" is owed to Horvath's wide-ranged vocals and romantically bleak, gore-stained lyrics, and that's been the case since their very beginning. It's been a while since the last one (2005?), and Psalm of the Grand Destroyer is damn solid, but not nearly as unnerving as Human Harvest or The Genocide Machine. Something just happens when I hear things as malevolent as "We Wear the Gimp Mask", so here's to not becoming desensitized despite the... world.
Humanity Falls - Ordaining the Apocalypse
I'm rarely the one to whine about the production job, but whereas the Worlds 7" was kickass noise, Ordaining the Apocalypse sounds as if it was recorded with a few cheap mics in a badly isolated garage (simply put, the lack of bass is much too apparent). Nonetheless, we get to hear thirty-three minutes of very interesting death-grind falling somewhere in-between Discordance Axis and Immolation / Gorguts / good death metal - as such, it simply cannot be dubbed not-disgustingly-awesome by anyone sane. That goddamn drummer doesn't spend a moment slacking off and it sounds as if he could kick his own ass (is he sufficiently loud off-record, though?), but I hope that - in the future - the whole band manages to pull their approach together for a less cut 'n' paste sound. That said, Humanity Falls let go off so many lazy metal gimmicks with both their sound and lyrics pertaining to philosophy and such, yet they showcase classically old school death metal cover art that could fool just about anyone in regard to the level of the material within, a tracklist topped off with a Pattern Blue cover for fuck's sake! Keeping an eye on these guys.
Bastards - An End In And Of Itself
I've seen this band advertised on some last.fm shoutboxes and such, and, being a young grind band from Ohio, I thought "Why not?" There's a some sludge and dissonance created with harmonics and such, in the context of something like a fifty - fifty metal to punk ration; overall, a pretty fun listen, but not a band that I'd consider inside my context of grind. Couldn't stand that triggered double bass, songs not really mad beyond the aesthetic of merely sounding as such, not really going anywhere or anything, it sounds more like... they're having fun? This is serious business, goddamnit.
/czechoslovacore - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[new borders are as important as old
ones; might include Holland&Poland]
Lycanthrophy - Discography (1998 - 2009)
Bigass collection no. 1 from damn rabid hyperthrash know-hows in disregard to English grammar, Lycanthrophy. Gotta admit that I went a bit "whoa" as I wasn't really aware of their fairly long existence, so hey, get it if you're in for nearly seventy tracks of Phobia-grade relentlessness, kickass punk covers included.
Idiots Parade - Discography (2005 - 2009)
[Hey, I THINK that this one came out in 2010.] Idiots Parade got a quite a bit of attention on volume two of Scott Hull's compilation that doesn't really kill any fascists. And deservingly so, 'cause they're a kickass Slovakian grind band if there ever was one. We experience some very fine lo-fi thrash for the first fifteen tracks, wherefrom (track sixteen) some nicer sound production kicks in, showing what might already be called the classic strength of fast music from eastern Europe... well, uh, unrelenting speed. (I mean, d'oh!)
Suffering Mind - S/T
Same story as last year's debut full-length, At War With Mankind - nothing new, but the stuff sure is ferocious (and one could say the same for most Eastern Block fastcore and grindcore), including a well balanced female to male vocal balance. Suffering Mind's well alright!
Jesus Cröst - 010
Everyone in Europe knows that football (soccer? what's that?) is serious business. And I mean seriously serious when I say serious. Don't know what to make of Jesus Cröst's inclination toward hooliganism, but their grind absolutely kills, a fact even more awesome once you learn that they're a bassless two-piece. 010 brings a lot of shit to the table, but it boils down to great hooks, wide-sounding distortion one step away from Rotten Sound, and those disgusting, hoggish vocal exhibitions that get showcased every once in a while.
[no thoughts on Self Hate (Poland) / haven't heard the album]
/a-thrashin' - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[fast to the core - flower to the violence / or not]
Hayaino Daisuki - The Invincible Gate Mind of the Infernal Fire Hell, or Did You Mean Hawaii Daisuki EP
The intense meaning of speed in thrash metal! Jon Chang's demands are widely known as psychotic, maniacal, vampiric, and similar, but he's a guy without an ounce of tolerance for what might be considered music done half-assedly. This is why he fronted the crème de la crème of grindcore with Discordance Axis, still fronts the extracted essence of speed as in death-grind with Gridlink, and thrash metal with Hayaino Daisuki, a manic exercise in melodic tremolo circles of hell that nobody could mistake for black metal.
Bloody Phoenix - Death To Everyone
A punk as fuck band very much appealing to the fastcore, powerviolence crowd. I remember the over the top, nervous speed of War, Hate, and Misery with a grin. If this is the context within which you observe Bloody Phoenix, Death To Everyone shouldn't disappoint, but here and there, it might try your patience. Not as ferocious, really. Is the anger fading with the decade? Stay angry, guys.
Kasatka - Scene Slaughter
Two Belgian dudes a-thrashin' really, really well contra "attention-seeking elitist clones" and such. Scene Slaughter contains four minutes and thirty-four seconds of no-joking-around lightning fast kick - snare alternation; thrashing, as effectively awesome as it gets. Something that I rarely care to mention: the excellent drum sound, crisp clear cymbal work, with a fat thump on the kick, and an old school plastic trash can vibe on the snare. Here's a big shout out to Owen, the drummer (I still think Man pulls music out of his ass, man!)!
ZaSKaE - Chikara
Heard 'em thanks to a radio show of Nigel's (Hipness as a Second Language)! ZaSKaE is a German non-stop blasting four-piece, with riffs akin to Hellnation doing a Commodore 64 SHMUP's fastcore soundtrack. The bandname is but an allusion to the name "Sasuke", the bandmembers remain anonymous, and Chikara (Japanese for "Power") is their short 'n' sweet debut, free for download at the To Live A Lie netlabel. Naturally, I enjoy their pretend-Japanese aesthetic - reminds me of what me and Orfee did with 鞠螺千世.
/emo - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[to be honest, I’m not talking about the hairstyle]
Loma Prieta - Life/Less
The Life/Less 12" is a thrashin’ interpretation of screamo, preferring to crush, rather than take part in the bland, modern post-rock gimmick that many such bands settled into. But why are people calling this stuff chaotic as if bands like Orchid or Usurp Synapse never even existed. Sure, there are certainly many great bands today, but I’ve still not heard one able of holding a candle to what once was the Sound and the fucking Fury (and I hate nostalgia, goddamnit). Fuck the expensive equipment, the sterile sound and the Scene jury. Loma Prieta is alright, though.
Envy - Recitation
Yes, I expected much more, but Recitation is sweet, sweet Envy, regardless - if any band pulls off the whole post-rock screamo deal well, it’s them, with years and years of perfecting, with actual hardcore punk beginnings and the balls that come with it. Still, feels like Recitation might have worked better had it come before, rather than after the emo epic that is Insomniac Doze, yet I only regarded some sort of concrete progression as a realistic expectation specificaly because it’s Envy that I’m thinking of; that said, the album is damn nice, but their splits with Jesu and Thursday showcased much more interesting tracks, songs of the sort that they’ll hopefully explore in the future. To continue, a relevant Japanese band that has changed considerably:
Heaven in Her Arms - Paraselene
Paraselen (a false moon) is probably the scariest and heaviest screamo record that ever was. The question is, can we, that is, should we even consider it as such? A great amount of the time, this is downright drone-doom, post-sludge, goddamn progressive metal as far as the the drummer’s concerned, burgeoning forth in a morbid, deathly manner, like some sort of disease, the resurgence of the plague (re: Camus). I, for one, thank Heaven in Her Arms for fairly alienating listening experiences, one hour at a time.
Alcest - Écailles de lune
Neige's new album seems to lack the personality of Souvenirs d'un autre monde, but my enjoyment of it still depends on whether I'm in the right mind (i.e. hopeful, optimistic, not cynical, so as not to consider it pathetic). It's just not as fun or catchy, really, but not bad by any means. I mean, Neige's smooth, blissful singing on the last track (Sur l'océan couleur de fer) is certainly what I've been looking for in life. Erm, sorry. I actually enjoy Alcest, but I guess I don't really see his music as the heavenly pure passion that Neige's seemingly gigantic (and growing) fanbase professes as matter-of-fact with foam dripping down their chins. Stop acting like you've got the rabies, eh? Similar thoughts on the following band (that I also enjoy, incidentally):
Lantlôs - .neon
With the inclusion of Neige as the vocalist, Lantlôs became something between Alcest and Amesoeurs. How this happened, I don't even care. Being insufficiently bleak to reach what Amesoeurs did last year, the stuff's not even as whiny as the work of Alcest, yet somehow .neon manages to settle into a "golden" middle, at least if it's your sort of thing. I actually like Neige's vocals 'cause, while his rasp recalls guys like Johan Lindstrand (At the Gates, The Crown, Disfear), come track two (These Nights Were Ours) I was reminded of Envy's own Tetsuya Fukagawa (perhaps it was the timing?), although the reverb / delay quickly swept the feeling off. But the notions stayed - Lantlôs seems to have introduced modern, post-rock-heavy (scr)e(a)mo into black metal (perhaps unknowingly), so it's just too natural for armchair elitists to express their hate and fury all over the internet (righteous in regard to black metal), and ever more so considering how pretty, erm, overrated these bands (as in Alcest, Amesoeurs) are. I mean, sure, call it "post-black metal" if you want, but how much of it actually pertains to black metal? The term rings hollow as the music is more like an intertribal amalgamation of post-rockin' shoegaze, post-punk, and whatever else is considered very much not black metal, that's had some distortion, screaming, and blastbeats attached to its tail. "Post-black metal" makes me think of Deathspell Omega, Dreams of the Drowned, or whatever is more realistically avant-garde black metal, e.g. Ved Buens Ende.
/non-grind blastbeats - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[hilarious wizard-clowns in black & white 'n' such]
Deathspell Omega - Paracletus
DsO is what I'm talking about (in regard to the last few sentences above) - a band that evolved out of classic black metal exhibitionism (Infernal Battles), went through hell and, erm, stayed there, enveloped in metaphysical Satanic flames to this day, riding the sleazy-red-dude-with-a-goatee's horns to the finalization of a very interesting album trilogy, Paracletus being their Return of the King (let it be known that I'm just kidding considering how much ass the Lord of the Rings trilogy sucks). They've come to be so far removed as to make people reminisce of technical death metal in general, of the kind not played by macho wankers. For example, on Wings of Predation I immediately thought of Orgone from Pittsburgh (a very subjective association that also happened with Thou), although the probability that their Goliath debut was an influence seems pretty low / thinking more along the lines of Gorguts, really.
Wold - Working Together For Our Privacy
This Canadian duo is the duo to see for enthralling, ritualistic walls of noise to cast your black magic to. Reminding me of The Conet Project shortwave recordings or similarly creepy things, Wold shows just how goddamn frightening lo-fi can be.
Sigh - Scenes From Hell
Sigh from Japan kicks the ass of approx. all symphonic metal bands. Bring on the trumpets.
Ihsahn - After
In Ihsahn's case, it's more like bring on the saxophones. "After" doesn't have much to do with black metal, but it's Ihsahn that we're talking about so I'd rather not put him next to, I dunno, the Dillinger Escape Plan? It's a pretty cool, catchy, "progressive metal" album, but I found it too, I dunno, tame? So I dunno.
Dispirit - Rehearsal at Oboroten
John Gossard's new band - expansive, layered, deformed and doomish black metal. This demo is just a recording of Dispirit's rehearsal, being over half an hour of material well worth a listen for reasons other than the forementioned guitar player's former, now dead bands (e.g. Asunder or USBM celebrities Weakling [hey, there's even a band called Dead as Dreams]). As much as it is noisy and raw, it's very sophisticated, even progressive in structure, droning and much less metal / heavy than, say, Weakling. Similar - but also fairly heavy - qualities can be found in:
Fell Voices - Tour CDr, split with Ash Borer
I enjoy the newly emerged, so-called "Cascadian black metal" deal; bands like Wolves in the Throne Room, Skagos, Fauna, Ash Borer, and Fell Voices, the last of which I consider hottest, hands-down. Fell Voices pull off the whole ritualistic black metal approach with enthralling fury, jamming long, hypnotic, untitled tracks averaging at about 20min each, circular riffs flowing so goddamn well that I find myself utterly engaged, inevitably attentive to the sound, stoically accepting its waves like some cliff existentially caught up between the shore and the sea. Ash Borer could be called a similar band, but they’re more about riff progressions, and much less hypnotic. I’ve gotta admit that most of my enjoyment might stem from the beastly, raw drumming, really, but also the whole aesthetic of nature, and the symbolism, that is, non-symbolism in not giving your songs any names - the circle of life (and death) is what’s up, and these bands deliver a concrete fuck you to all those symbolic satans and similar fellas.
Panopticon - ...On the Subject of Mortality
If the whole black metal + post-rock deal can be done right, Lundr's definitely onto something with his professedly anarchist, vaguely propagandist black metal solo project (I'm lost on the effectiveness consider the subtlety of some lyrics, such as "There is no God! There is no God!" but this doesn't really feel like the place to discuss such things). Two full-lengths and a couple of splits in, Panopticon still sounds fresh, raw and underproduced in all the right ways when it comes to this sort of music, melodious, punk as fuck black metal reminiscing of the long gone Suicide Nation (Arizona), with fairly obvious 21st century influences found in instrumental, epically drawn-out bands like Mono.
Flourishing - A Momentary Sense of the Immediate World EP
I like the album title a whole lot - could it be said that it defines what might be called a stark contrast of present day, civilized perception, as in: man's animalistic ability to sense the world all at once, as what is, rather than what it was, what it could, should, or might be, as hindered by interpretation in symbols, letters, language, art (sound familiar? perhaps the notions also pertain to the one man project above). Flourishing consists of the classic three man band set up, pretty tight and flowing. I've heard their death metal being described as under the influence of Discordance Axis, even, but I seriously don't know what that's all about - A Momentary Sense of the Immediate World is like Lykathea Aflame's Elvenfris pulled to the more established, darker side of death metal, so here's to the frequent namedropping of Immolation & Gorguts.
Agalloch - Marrow of the Spirit
I tried. I couldn't. I still find Agalloch boring and who gives a shit? It is how it is despite Aesop, their driving drummer (also the mother + father of Cosmic Hearse, the blog), who also drums for:
Ludicra - The Tenant
Bringing girl power to black metal with the ease of a butterfly's flight (not talking about hawk moths and similar winged beasts), Ludicra kicks ass all the same. Shit, if a band can sound upbeat and black metal at the same time, they probably kick ass and/or have a very capable drummer, but a great part of the deal-sealing is owed to Shanaman's (and Cather's) bewitching screeching. Watch live for added effect.
/hardbone, uh, badcore, erm, hardcore? - - - - - - -
[hard to the core, bad to the bone, said george
thorogood. p.s. he also said: "I drink alone"]
Kerouac - Cold and Distant, Not Loving EP [posted]
With a bandname like that, you better play some damn good bebop. Well, Kerouac’s a bit too heavy for such jazz, but I still like them. I’ll use this opportunity in order to take a dump into the genre pool; in an age where metalcore means utter shit like As I Lay Dying and Bring Me the Horizon (wait, the second one’s deathcore? no way! I insist that it’s less annoying stuff, e.g. Despised Icon), I’m supposed to call Converge "chaotic hardcore", but I'd rather not, 'cause I don't comprehend strictly set time signatures as chaotic. So hey, I say that Kerouac is a metalcore band, and this better assume hardcore as integral. We create, we render useless all these tags, symbols, that pertain purely to a current scene, but it's got jackshit to do with the music. Yet I gave Kerouac a listen specifically because of a symbol - their name - and I didn't regret it. Young and angry, and pretty fast considering how heavy. Pretty nice!
Bastions - Island Living EP
After hearing Kerouac, I decided to delve deeper into the whole modern UK hardcore deal, and I found Bastions, mid-tempo stuff with boring breakdowns behind an implication of passion. You can symbolize emotion as much as you want to, but that still won’t make it any more meaningful or "real" than the sweet feeling of taking a dump, but hey, it’s certainly the sort of aesthetic that’s currently popular. Of course, I might be wrong, but this whole blog deal makes me feel like I’m talking to myself, anyway.
Kvelertak - S/T
All in all, one of the most overrated records to come out in 2010, but still pretty solid, rockin' hardcore from Frozen Hell Norway with somewhat of a penchant for employment of vaguely black metal-esque tremolo leads. For fans of: Motörhead, AC/DC, and that silly new Darkthrone shit. Samo rokanje, rođaci.
Torch Runner - Locust Swarm
You see what happens, Larry, when you smash grind and sludge together so hard as to maximally dilute any of their standalone elements. Owing largely to the full-blown, heavy yet heavily grease-reverberated sound, Torch Runner crushes everything within their indefinite radius of explosion (called "splash damage" in regard to effect) as pedantically as a few planets colliding. There’s nothing old here - it’s a totally new destruction, a flower of predominantly hardcore, and that’s why: 1. I like it so, 2. it’s not in the sludge department further down.
Dillinger Escape Plan - Option Paralysis
Meh. I do feel weird thinking about how this is the band that released their first, awesome EP, Under the Running Boards, some twelve years ago, warranting the infamous debut full-length just a year later. But DEP, at the end of the day, you can take your choruses and shove them.
Daughters - S/T
What the Daughters seem to have lost in speed, they made up in other, fairly deranged areas. Including a fat, heavy sound, at that. Sure, I like it, but I’d be a liar if I said that I don’t miss the NOISE. Everybody knows that the Daughters became something like a weird post-hardcore band with a double bass-pedal, some sort of twisted, disgusting Fugazi with shit synths, somewhat appreciative of the Jesus... Lizard, so if I have to be nice, I’ll just call this one a logical (‘cause "natural" seems like the completely wrong word in all such instances) progression and...
/punk as fuck - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[noise and banjos!]
凛として時雨 - Still a Sigure Virgin?
...or Rin Toshite Shigure (and also Ling Tosite Sigure, but I don’t like that one) is a Japanese trio playing - vaguely - post-hardcore so energetically that I was tempted to put them in with the grind bands. So I don’t really know who to recommend this sort of thing to, but it’s got dual sex vocals and I just have to note the super-high-pitched adult male yelling courtesy of Toru Kitajima, a lot of things that the ear will gladly catch, and an adorable dose Engrish (e.g. the opener, "I Was Music").
AIDS Wolf - March to the Sea
Reviewing whatever is perceived as noise seems like a fairly hollow act no matter how sophisticated its creation might be. At best, one could attempt to describe it as accurately and objectively as possible, but I’m not much into that, or the drawing of a specific line between noise and music. It’s AIDS Wolf! You could call these sounds riffs, this yelling singing, etc., but hey, you either enjoy their spastic, beat-based music, or you don’t.
Pale Robin - Birth Rites Versus
Mars and C.P.N. make up for the lack of new (the two being members of) Blackbird Raum material in 2010 with a separate folk project. Compared to the downright punk approach of Raum (in accordance to their mad, joyous, hedonistic notions), Pale Robin displays rhythmically much simpler, minimalistic, perhaps more traditional folk songs; a bit melancholic, romantic, but in the end just as life-happy as the first band (see proof in songs like "Legs of Lead"). Geoff rides a pale horse!
Jimi Hendrix - Valleys of Neptune
There might be something creepy in posthumously released records (for example, are they all "death metal" by default or something, at least in the case of metal?), but I’d have no problem loving this stuff if zombie Hendrix somehow kept his level of his playing (of course, along with zombie Mitchell and zombie Redding) post-resurrection. That’s just fact, son.
/not punk as fuck - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[not even metal]
Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope Into the Sky
Swans still sound like Swans. I hear the band’s an ace thing to see live, so that’s what I’m gonna try to do in May or so. What’s the music like? Atmospherically encapsulating riffs and sounds, general weirdness, set to an almost militaristic beat, coupled with Gira’s old school, somewhat apathetic sort of singing that Curtis did better. Anyhow, I like it very much, but I’m much too into other things to judge in a more practical manner, and I certainly didn’t expect a title to replace White Light From the Mouth of Infinity. Speaking of which, Gang of Four’s "Content" came out about a week ago and it’s shit.
The Unwinding Hours - S/T
Naturally, the Aereogramme fan demographic is most susceptible to getting kicks out of The Unwinding Hours’ debut full-length, and that’s alright. Although I miss the downright unnerving aggression that Aereogramme sometimes employed, the album is heavy on absolutely sweet, noisily symphonic outbursts that might be considered a natural progression of the former band. Cute stuff.
Deftones - Diamond Eyes
Apparently an excellently produced album equals an excellent album.
/winning a sludge contest is like - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[making funny faces to adults / the ass-
holes might not appreciate your work]
Thou - Summit
Madly prolific, inimitable, apocalyptically hopeful Louisiana sludge. Summit may not be as heavily catchy as Tyrant, but I'd rather focus on how awesome it still is. Coupled with the lyrics, Thou's sludge might sound like ruby red lava creeping down bleak NOLA streets, cleansing the city of cop, dope, and man all-together; crystal clear progressions erupt into waves of distortion, sprout into monolithic trees spreading rich, emerald green branches - life - stubbornly rooted into asphalt, growing all the same. If I imagined a polar opposite to Thou, I'd think of Orgone, Pittsburgh's masters of tech-death - the latter fast, the first one slow - 'cause both bands let their music flow without elitist restrictions, naturally like blood, sweat, spit, cum, piss. How is it that these bands, showcasing remarkable sophistication in composition and lyricism, manage to bring forth such heartfelt, even raw sound? [Pretty sure I got into Thou thanks to Alex - thanks, man!]
The Body - All the Waters of the Earth will Turn to Blood
The Body is a band that goes a bit beyond, or simply avoids, writing catchy riffs, hooks, clichés in general. Except for crushing heaviness - they're fine with that. Opening with a downright heavenly, alleviating female choir build-up, made all the more eerie by the background crackle, the moment that the actual (two man) band kicks in sounds something like the apocalypse. Saw a live video somewhere; drummer Lee determinately smacking huge crashes, guitarist / singer Chip wailing into the microphone like a banshee, sticking his tongue out for added effect. The Body's concrete discord evoked in me an uneasy feeling of abandonment that I perceived as both beautiful and grotesque; shit, I even felt like watching the End of Evangelion again (what, four years already gone?). Big thanks to Nigel for introducing me to this one.
Harvey Milk - A Small Turn of Human Kindness
Taking their name from the first openly homosexual dude to be elected to Californian public office (whom Dan White assassinate back in 1978, along with San Francisco's mayor, George Moscone), Harvey Milk are certainly one of the least subtle bands that I ever heard. Each time I put them on I find myself freshly eager and patient to get crushed by some of the saddest, lowest, most depressive music without an ounce of cheap, pathetic melody to paint their sorrow with (similar to the Body in this regard). "Rich" is the last word I’d use when describing their sound, ‘cause it’s a crippled, painfully naked thing, like an elephant without its trunk, with the vast and blunt qualities of an earthquake. "But I, just me alone, by myself got up and left, yes, I alone got up and left the fire to check it out. I just seen the saddest thing I ever saw."
Bastard Noise - A Culture of Monsters
Smoke volcanic dope, love everyone, etc.? All great advice. On first listen it may seem like this weird new Bastard Noise simplified, even dumbed down the otherworldly, pure filth bass-framework set down by Man is the Bastard (the first being but a side project of the second, originally), but for fuck's sake, A Culture of Monsters recreated jazz in a powerviolent manner, the album being a clear testament to / masterwork of Man is the Bastard-born powerviolence extravaganza, including their image, the symbolism of the cover art, the song titles (Me and Hitler?) and such. Sure, it's all hardcore punk, and this may sound weird but, looking back, 2010 seems like one of the sweetest years for powerviolence as music, regarding its specific, unique sound and potential, since the year that Jesus died, following two releases included:
The Endless Blockade - Splits with Bastard Noise (The Red List), Unearthly Trance
The Endless Blockade doesn't have much to do with the cult of G.I.S.M. other than the band name. These jesters don't care much about the modern definition of powerviolence yet play what might be called its essence (despite ten to fifteen minutes long tracks on these splits), sounding something like a mix between Infest and Man is the Bastard, heavy on the sludge with pronounced tempo & noise acrobatics. Sadly, 2010 is also the year that the band claimed its own death, so let's put on that Noah Crecshevsky remix and weep. While you've got a relevant description of Bastard Noise above, Unearthly Trance ought to be a well established name in sludge by now considering all their splits (Minsk, Ramesses, Aldebaran, Suma), notwithstanding the massive, blackened atmosphere. (Speaking of Suma, saw them play a few years ago with one of my favorite sludge bands ever, brothers to Corrupted, Birushanah -)
Birushanah, Drain The Sky - Split [posted]
Birushanah is a folk sludge band if there ever was one. Also just about the fastest sludge band ever. Still, nobody in their right mind could call them anything other than just that - sludge. There's something frightening about the Japanese and their tradition, starting with the Emperor's noble samurai (see their code of conduct, Bushidō), declining inversely in parallel to industrialization, inevitably left on the backs of a few, just as "noble" madmen like Yukio Mishima (see his 1960 short story, Patriotism + the story of his life and suicide), but it goes on to this day, this (now) paradoxical devotion and excellence in art and cultural things in-general. Steeped in Japanese traditional music (most of all, rhythm), Birushanah provide but one song, Anagura, on first listen not insanely complex like their earlier works, but ultimately their most epic, exhilarating chapter in eighteen and a half minutes of a great catastrophe composed (relevantly, I wonder when Corrupted’s coming back?). Even if you don't care about extreme music or whatever, Sougyo's playing ought to fascinate any the slightest bit interesting bass player. The other half of the release pertains to Drain the Sky, a band hailing from the States, delivering four speedy, emotionally loaded, hardcore punk-born (e.g. His Hero Is Gone) post-sludge songs (refuse to use the brand of neocrust, although others might) without the build-up-inducing intensity of Osakan folk sludge, even much less atmospherically enthralling, although exactly atmosphere is what they seem to aim for very often, but take what I say with a grain of salt ‘cause I’m certainly biased toward Birushanah’s indisputable superiority over most of contemporary extreme music (based on composition, at least / yes, riffs). The split's a joy to listen to any way I choose to put it.
Dad They Broke Me - Rot EP
Ever since I heard the crushing nugget of gold that is their debut EP, Lack, I’ve been eagerly awaiting anything new, anything at all. Was supposed to find Rot in my mailbox ages ago, too, but that never happened (courtesy of the Croatian Post, probably). Anyway, for those who’ve never heard Dad They Broke Me - they took their name from a Pavement song’s lyrics and they play shamelessly destructive sludge, as noisy and as slow / fast as they like to, but it’s most definitely sludge at all times, even when it’s over a blastbeat. And what else could you expect from a song titled "Swine Filth Hate God", for example? In order to please my laziness, I’ll end this with a simple statement about how Dad They Broke Me is one of the most underrated bands of today, so take note as this is their last ever release ‘cause the drummer is moving to Japan! Fuck.
/avant-garde, why so slow? - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[I mean the tempo / I mean, I miss Ruins (JPN),
Keiji Haino, and the rest of the psychiatric ward]
Ehnahre - Taming the Cannibals & Kayo Dot - Coyote / Stained Glass EP
[Decided for a combined sort of thing.]
Whereas Toby Drivers seems to have pulled Kayo Dot together into a harder, that is, less spastic form reminiscing of maudlin of the Well, Ehnahre, a band I fell in love with on first listen of their debut, The Man Closing up, sharing most of (what might be called) its key members with Kayo Dot, seems to have gone the exact opposite way (toward earlier Kayo Dot-type stuff, even). Driver's band (and work in-general) could be called dreamy (the usual continuation of his "music heard in dreams put to conscious use" approach, if we could call it that), and, sure, even unnerving at times ("Help me, I'm disappearing!"? that's one simple, matter-of-fact howl, sounding perfectly uncomfortable), but Ehnahre is a downright horrifying experiment in dark atmosphere, like stumbling down a filthy, pitch black hallway, searching for yourself, finding only an elephantine worm, manically convulsing on the floor, pale and dripping, eating away at itself... "Silvery, a childlike skeleton smashes on bleak wall." What both bands use excellently are time signatures deconstructed to the point of everything just left droning, or even silent, with their collective middle finger generally raised toward the classic, riff-enthusiastic metal crowd. Some review vaguely described Ehnahre as diSEMBOWELMENT / Gorguts, and that's alright with me!
/manowar wannabes - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[not wearing tigths is not fooling anyone]
Lair of the Minotaur - Evil Power
The Great Destroyer was a fat, crushing slab of chug. Their sludgy tendencies minimalized, you get Evil Power - a bunch of nicely produced, average metal riffs. A split with 3 Inches of Blood is the next logical step. This power ain't evil, it's just kistchy.
High on Fire - Snakes for the Divine
Same shit as above. High on Fire is kickass rock'n'roll, though, but my problem with them has always been the songs dragging on for much too long, and I'm supposed to suffer through all these long, annoying solos now as well.
The Lord Weird Slought Feg - The Animals Spirits
Not really slow, but I like referring to that Manowar part. I've been somewhat of a fan since I heard Down Among the Deadmen during some of those early highschool years. What's there not to like in heavy metal this fun? Instead of classic and annoying heavy / power metal clichés, Slough Feg go from Celtic folklore to trashy sci-fi operas, the first of which the following band still clings to:
Mael Mórdha - Manannán
About the whole epic doom thing, these lads never disappoint. With Ó Bogail yelling as resolutely as ever, the rest of the band abandoned some of that trademark melancholia (e.g. no more sad piano) seemingly as inherent to Irish metal (similar case with Primordial) as tasteless swords, suits of armor and angry old dragons are to Italian power metal, all of a sudden they make me wanna light a forty pound torch to beat policemen with. Manannán mac Lir seems like a solid guy, too.
/noisy boner for the stoner - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[a hundred blunts in, vulgarity keep-
s me sane! just kidding; i.e. I wish...]
Kylesa - Spiral Shadow
No objective reason for me to enjoy Kylesa's "prog-sludge" wankery more than any other sludge band's sloppy underperformance. It's still all about the riff and shit so what am I even talking about? "They're a pretty cool band, but I don't really find them interesting enough to follow their growth as a band," and similar ass-sentences. On the other hand, it's awesome that they don't care about set genres and all, 'cause they do sound like they're having fun. I've only joy after tracks like Hollow Severer, but hey, wrong album. Instead, Spiral Shadow provided me with psychedelic, mid-tempo grunge-reminiscing stuff that one might mistake for a Foo Fighters cover, as is the case with "Don't Look Back". For that sort of stuff, I'm still sticking with:
Torche - Songs for Singles (EP or whatever)
Cool stuff, Torche. I mean, if I ever grow tired of their catchy as hell brand of greasy stoner pop, I can always recede to Dove, Floor, Cavity, and such. Torche's cool, I say again. It's like the hyperactivelly grinning Melvins finally penetrated the walls of downtuned misanthropia, leaving behind the occultist Sabbath worshiping cross-hanging and hellish narcomania. Here's to surfing on one colossal, slow wave with beer in one hand, blunt in the other.
Melvins - The Bride Screamed Murder
Speaking of the Melvins, they're not stopping either. The opening track, The Water Glass, starts out with a heavy, dropping riff; turns out to be a rhythmically uplifting end of the decade sing-a-long à la 60s garage rock / the US army footsoldier department marching, yelling. Continuing with track two, Evil New War God, whereupon I found myself killed by riffs. Ladies and gentlemen - the goddamn Melvins.
Melvins, Isis - Split
Melvins-wise, not that much to hear here 'cause their tracks are but alternative versions of tracks 3 & 4 off The Bride Screamed Murder (Pig House, I'll Finish You Off). As for Isis, these are probably the last tracks of the band that we'll get to hear. Ever. Musically, they're on the level of Wavering Radiant's (not that) vague hints of prog-rock, with sweet, bubbly bass, heavy and flowin', a sound that nobody could mistake for any other band. But just like that, Isis is dead, so I'm glad I got to see them play once, even though the setlist didn't include The Beginning and the End (!?).
Fight Amp, Kowloon Walled City, Ladder Devils - Split
Some bands just want to watch the world enveloped in heavy, low, love, uh, I mean, noise, noise rock. Starting with Fight Amp, probably the most Unsane of the lot; continuing with Kowloon Walled City, too-heavy-for-its-own-good sludge with a noise rock backbone, whose free-for-download 2008 debut EP I "reviewed" after Evans kindly sent me the thing; ending with Ladder Devils, a four-piece enriching this whole ménage à trois with their punkish - rather than strictly heavy - approach. Nice!
/too slow for school - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[what's the opposite of supercollider? some-
thing akin to a turd slipping down the bowl]
Electric Wizard - Black Masses
Enough reviews, essays on this one and why it sucks. In reality, it's not bad at all, but the bias must be taken for granted considering Dopethrone. Black Masses is nowhere near. So what? I kinda dislike the sound of the drums, but I've no objections otherwise. The album's title speaks truthfully of its sound, each track being a black, fairly primitive ritual in itself - the atmosphere reminded me of Black Widow, and that's most definitely nice (occultist UK prog-rock / check out "Sacrifice", released 1970), and maybe completely inane, too.
Salome - Terminal
From the lyrics to the sound, everything about Salome is crushingly bleak. Terminal is "stoner" sludge stripped to its very core, an exercise in massive minimalism, the meaning of "less is more" defined very strangely in consideration of the genre - doom metal - by the exclusion of the bass guitar. Simplistic, concrete groove drumming, a guitar downtuned to fucking oblivion, and polarized growling & screeching recalling both Runhild (of Thorr’s Hammer-) and a bit of Edgy (-of Burning Witch, respectively), the vocalist being Kat, who also yelled on Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s 2009 effort, the very overrated Agoraphocalypse.
Bongripper - Satan Worshiping Doom
Bongripper are the stoned masters of the jam without a care in the world for anything other than the riff. Four tracks, fifty three minutes of post-Sleep sludge that might've been just as well pre-Sleep, devoid of vocals, devoid of Jesus.
Cough - Ritual Abuse
Some people believe that their true calling lies in tuning deep, deep down and attempting to invoke riffs directly from Satan, but what they usually get is the merry Ozzy Osbourne Orchestra, i.e. a Burning of a Witch luckily degenerated to the point of excellent sludge. This is what happened on Cough's Ritual Abuse, a damn slow Year in Suffering spent riding down the Crooked Spine of a Crippled Wizard (that is, a madman's Collapsed Mind, as there are no gods, no wizards, no witches, no Harry Potter, Hogwarts, and so on).
Fistula - Goat
Goat is no nonsense filth, a gallon of bleach, a horrendous mass of rotting meat lumbering through presumably America, occasionally collapsing into a barrel roll in honor of rock'n'roll as devised by Black Sabbath. But to be honest, it's barely recognizable. From the bandname to the music, I am utterly disgusted with Fistula's Goat - it's a treat for those who enjoy being covered in abysmal mountains of shit. Awesome! P.S. Set aside the goat's demonically square and you will comprehend its cuteness. But speaking of filth...
haarp - The Filth
"IT'S ME ..... AGAAAAAAIN!" is how haarp start it off. Those are some stupidly effective, funny as hell lyrics to begin with. The joyous thing about his downright demonic vocals is their comprehensibility. "WHY... DO, YOU... DO THIS... TO, MEEEEE?" Jesus fucking Christ, that’s just wonderful. In fact, almost too wonderful - too loud in the mix - it seeps the Power of the Riff (for its form, see Crowbar or similar). I assume that this is Anselmo’s fault as he was the producer. God bless NOLA sludge, anyhow...