Well, we’re two years into these Deathrock mixtapes, and the fascination that dark postpunk and deathrock continues to hold over the punk scene continues unabated, even if many punker-than-thou bands refuse to acknowledge their own new swing into gothic territory, proud as some would-be tastemakers are. The punk scene’s dipping into the waters of this tradition is producing, to me, some of the best new music around these days. And the best of that is represented in the mixtape below.
Grind, Powerviolence, punk, metal, fast and brutal shit…. call-it-what-you-will, we don’t really know what to call this crazy release aside from fucking awesome! What you can stream herein is the debut offering by the Bay Area’s newest spine-splitters, DeathgraVe! Based out of San Jose and Oakland, members of DeathgraVe are: Matt on drums, Fern on bass (also Amber Asylum, ex member of Bird, ex member of Ringwurm), Andre on vocals (also of San Jose death metal bruisers Cyanic, ex member of Bird, ex member of Casket Blaster) and Greg Wilkinson on guitar (Brainoil, ex member of Laudanum, ex member of I will Kill You Fucker, super-renowned all-things-heavy sound engineer and too many other bands to mention!). Their debut self-titled Demo is everything you would want to hear as the soundtrack to an insane and hysterical poser-killing rampage!
Dead Peasants are a three piece blackened hardcore band from the mean streets of Baltimore. They originally formed in 2011 but didn’t release any recordings until early 2013, when they put out a split with fellow Marylanders, sludge metal band Ecco, and this, a half hour demo of raw, speaker-splitting blackened fury.
Dead Peasants’ music mixes elements from doom, grind, sludge and the primal punky black metal aggression of a band like Ancestors. Tracks careen from four to the floor caustic blackened punk fury and wounded animal vocals to sludgy stretches of crawling, drawn out doom metal and piercing feedback, all with a haunting, echo-drenched melodicism that creates a truly oppressive, depressive atmosphere.
Holy… fuckin’… shit. I sat down to listen to the self titled debut from GREY WIDOW, and I immediately started feeling an awful sense of unease and torment taking over my existence. I could feel maggots tunneling under my skin, my hair and teeth falling out and leeches lodged in my eye sockets, sucking on my pupils, and eating their way into my skull. I could feel the scent of death and madness filling my nostrils with sickness and my lungs with vomit and bile, and shrouding my existence with a permeant sense of ruin and decay. This music is not to be fucked with. It’s decaying and putrid potency is just too much to underestimate. GREY WIDOW, have crafted something of unimaginable sickness.
In a perfect world, LARVAE, from the ever so musically fascinating SF Bay Area, would be ruling the world of blackened death-doom and handing out invaluable lessons to everyone when it comes to things like form, integrity, character, style and execution. But as we know the world is far from perfect, and is actually more often than not a spiteful and cynical shithole pit of injustice, where assholes and jocks rule the world while real talent goes completely unnoticed. Well fuck that. Maybe it’s just because of this that Larvae is where it is, or maybe cause these boys are shy and prefer to stay away from the spotlight, but truth is, it is most likely that none of you, or very few of you, have heard of this band before, and that, sorry to say, is fucking unacceptable.
It seems like every band these days is related to five million other bands, and Love Interest are no different, hailing from the incestuous musical underground of Olympia, WA, and sporting members from schizoid hardcore bands GAG and White Wards as well as dark post-punkers Soft Kill. You wouldn’t guess it though, as their sound is wholly their own and seems to emanate from an entirely different time and place.
Opener ‘Narco’ is a perfect little slice of brooding fuzz pop, aching heart vocals moaning over melodic bass, spectral synthesisers and yearning guitar lines in a track that splits the difference between eighties Euro-cold wavers Asylum Party and the ethereal mess of early Weekend. It’s a melancholy earworm of a track that makes you wish John Hughes was still alive and making teen movies. Listening to it immediately spawns involuntary but welcome visions of Phoebe Cates in the Sherman Oaks Galleria food court. I can definitely picture this song being played at a pastel pink high school dance in a town that doesn’t exist.
How much malice, evil and blasphemy can someone fit into fifteen minutes? A fair fucking bit when you take a closer look at the first demo from Acualli, who are able to channel the spirit of black/death acts such as Blasphemy, and thus bring forth six songs of sickening wrath and unstoppable fury.
The opening title track has an imminent effect on the listener, as you are overwhelmed by the destructive spirit of the band. Imposing guitar sound and the continuous beating of your ears is all that you will find within, aided by the fast tempo and the deep, abyssal vocals that destroy all hope. The tempo might change with “Rites of Mockery,” but the abrupt and menacing personification of the band retains the same characteristics. A dark ambiance and the rejection of any light is all that you will find within the core of Acualli.
In Italian, ”sei vivo, sei morto a nessuno importa” literaly means “whether you are alive or dead no one gives a shit”. This should give you an idea of what KOMPLOTT sound like. Pure, emaciated, unadulterated, starving and corrosive ultra-violent gutter punk from on of the lost capitals of Italian (and modern) hardcore – Milan, in northern Italy. Formed by current and former members of Giuda, Horror Vacui and Holy, KOMPLOTT are one of those bands who’s urgency, incumbency and full-blown anger are something you simply can not fuck with. This band has sacrificed everything – the form, the sound, the execution and even composition – to convey all its energies in one single focal point: pure and unadulterated socially-charged fucking wrath.
It’s almost preposterous say in the first sentence of a review, but Unru have created perhaps one of my favorite releases of the year and it’s a demo. Unru hail from Germany and, like many bands of the more contemporary blackened crust movement, only reveal themselves through veiled mystique and runes. But image aside, let’s talk about the powerhouse that is DEMO MMXIII.
The demo itself brings with it all of the gritty qualities one would expect to be associated with a demo: low production, cymbals crashing and creating waves of non-sound, guitars that are seemingly lost in the mix, however none of this is a slight against Unru in the least bit and if anything, it really drives the point home. Four interlude tracks I-V serve as moments of atmosphere for the album, giving the listener breaks in-between the absolute onslaught that is DEMO MMXIII. I think what strikes me the most about Unru is the ridiculous vocal sound because I’ve never quite heard anything like it; the vocalist creates something so animalistic and sinister that it’s actually quite exciting to hear from track to track. Similarly, I felt as though the drums throughout most of the tracks held a particular antagonistic relationship with the guitar, much to each instrument’s benefit…Full CVLT Nation Review HERE!
It took me a fair few listens of this album to get even the slightest understanding of anything that was going on, but now it probably rates as one of the best albums I’ve ever heard. Inaccessible is a gross understatement. Portal play impenetrable, brutal, fucking crazy music that commonly gets referred to as death metal but sounds absolutely nothing like most death metal I’ve ever heard. Waaaay down-tuned guitars spew just unrecognisable streams of noisy murk that is actually impossibly technical (once you start to realise what is actually going on, after about listen six), drums hammer and blast like armies of mammoths using jackhammers and wrecking balls to fight each another, and the vocals sound like the battle cries of some fucking alien beast that lives deep underwater. This whole album sounds like it came from the ocean floor, or a world made entirely of concrete, or two massive spaceships colliding. Clearly I can come up with no shortage of hyperbole when it comes to this album and it all gets nowhere near conveying the indescribably heavy reality of this colossus.