This self-titled release from Veil Of Shadow is absolute reductionist raw black metal – black metal stripped down to its key ingredients, sans production, sans track titles, sans anything that isn’t absolutely essential.
This results in an album that is raw, primitive and immediate, but also manages to be strangely cerebral and impressionistic in its hypnotic repetition and hazy, distorted recording. This release has to have one of the most effective lo-fi productions out there, as repetitive power chord riffs and tremolo-picked high melodies drill their way into your consciousness through a misty distorted wash that renders them not so much heard as felt.
The latest release from OvO, Italy’s audacious sonic experimentalists (and Supernatural Cat labelmates to the almighty Ufomammut), Abisso has proven to be a challenge for reviewers to adequately describe – in short, it’s a unique recording, both heavy and strange; these songs are equal parts snarling feedback, bludgeoning riffs, Bruno Dorella’s blunt-force percussion and the otherworldly growls and caterwauls of Stefania Pedretti (vocals, guitar).
If hallucinating Yanomami shamans started a band performing early Ministry covers (specifically, “Cannibal Song” and “Breathe”), it might sound like second track, “Tokoloshi” (see below for a taste of the band’s giallo-esque visual aesthetic); Alan Dubin’s (Khanate, OLD) guest vocals on “A Dream Within A Dream” further cements the album’s mix of caustic rock into a surreal foundation, which is ultimately topped by the billowing tattered canvas of closing jam “Fly Little Demon”, with Carla Bozulich and her band, Evangelista.
Holy Things are For the Holy, the latest EP from Ontario grind/noise collective Column of Heaven, is about as subtle as a spoonful of steel wool. It’s a slow, painful bite and an alarming swallow. It travels throughout you, leaving scars and marks, and coming out unchanged; but fully changing you.
New York punk band Ivy rip through seven songs in just under ten minutes on this demo cassette of messy, belligerent hardcore. These songs are rough, sloppily recorded, for the most part indecipherable and catchy as hell. The vocals for most of this release are barely distinguishable from the rest of the band, a distant, drowning, antagonistic presence – and good luck discerning even a single word of lyrics. That being said, these guys actually have some real hooks. While I have no idea what’s being sung, the vague, wavering, snotty, out-of-tune chorus line of ‘Antsy’ is seriously so catchy and will be stuck in your head for days.
There’s not really much else to be said here. You could listen to this album a few times over in the time it takes to read a review, and your time would be much better served. Get on it.
Label: Robotic Empire
Up until now, Reuben Sawyer has been known mostly for his fantastic illustration and design work under the Rainbath Visual moniker, but that’s going to change very quickly as a result of this album.
Held Above is the first album proper by Hollow Sunshine, in which Sawyer takes care of instrumentation/writing duties alongside vocalist Morgan Enos, and it is a sublime achievement. Like the similarly-minded but entirely different sounding SubRosa and Jesu, Hollow Sunshine combines doom metal sonics with melodic indie rock sensibilities, creating music that on the one hand is sludgy, distorted and impossibly heavy, and on the other harkens back to the best nineties indie pop, grunge and shoegaze bands.
‘Cement Cathedrals’ is a limited cassette release and the first release from the Stay Strange label based in San Diego. Monochromacy are best described as minimalist drone. From the very beginning you get lost in it’s cold unique sound, which takes you away to a dark and doomy place. A slow and sinister pace which invokes a mournful feeling but still soothing to the soul. In places, there are coherent delayed bass riffs, but the rest is atonal and bleak, yet also very together. It’s mastered by James Plotkin, who is known for his work with Sunn O))), ISIS, Pelican and Earth. So certainly the ideal choice for Monochromacy. At times, a haunting wash of drone drifting in it’s own ambience, like on the track ‘Nihilo’. Then drifting back into overlapping white-noise.
The final track, ‘Life Without Air,’ is quite different to the rest. As it has a low, shadowy vocal and a ghostly air of Joy Division about it. Definitely the perfect track to finish the EP. Even if you’re not into this style of music it would be worth giving it a try. Be adventurous and listen to the meditation music for the end of times.
Haunted Horses are a trio from Seattle, Washington who play impossibly eerie, dark post-punk. Watcher is abrasive, dissonant and unsettling; full of rumbling tribal drumming underneath ominous synth drones and piercing, trebly guitar picking. Where many death rock and post-punk bands adhere to what are essentially pop song structures and tropes – albeit dark versions of such – Haunted Horses definitely draw their influence from the opposite end of the spectrum.
These tracks are free-form and impressionistic, steering well clear of anything even closely resembling new wave in favour of hypnotic marches and schizophrenic song structures that veer wildly from robotic repetition to explosions of volume and dissonance and back again just as suddenly. Eschewing the bass-heavy melodicism of other post-punk acts, these tracks have a nerve-shredding obsession with higher frequencies and atonality played off against drums that can come off as both tribal and organic and robotic and completely off-kilter. The vocals, too, veer wildly, from a flat apathetic drawl to harsh hollers, but they always sound distant and mostly are all but consumed in the cacophony of the instruments, like a ghostly afterglow adding yet more menace to the proceedings.
Attention all CVLT Nation readers: we are gearing up for our 2013 edition of our end-of-the-year lists, and like we did last year we want to include our readers in deciding who goes where on the most important list of all. So for our Top 6 Albums of 2013, we would like to ask you to submit your choices, spanning any genre, any country, for the 6 full-length albums that made 2013 a better place for you! We are accepting submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org from today until December 7th. We’ll go through all of the lists submitted and choose your top picks to publish on the site by the end of December. Thanks for another great year!
Now, here are two bands that do not need much introduction. Coffins and Noothgrush collaborating! When it comes to the underground doom scene, it does not really get better than this. If you need proof of that, just go ahead and check out some of the back catalogue of these two bands: Coffins, with epic releases such as The Other Side of Blasphemy, Mortuary In Darkness, Buried Death and, their most recent The Fleshland, are giving all they’ve got in the two songs they are contributing to this release. As for Noothgrush, who have released a series of demos and splits, their one and only full-length to date is one of the best doom metal records of the 90s – I am speaking about Erode The Person obviously. And now, with Dino Sommese, previously of Asunder and Dystopia, in their line-up, they are rejuvenated.
The three songs that Noothgrush bring are filled with destruction and filth. “Humandemic” kicks things off with a slow tempo taking over completely and old school riffs hammering down slowly. The insane vocals are introduced, trying to tear your ears through and through, while the drunken groove of the band invites you to join in this unearthly feast. The sludge storm rages on with a re-recording of “Jundland Waves”. The doom riffs are always present, while strange effects are swooping in making the track sound even weirder as Noothgrush gradually increase the tension. Once again, the groove is key to the band, and in this instance they are using it to cause an almost nauseating effect.