Billed from Portland, Oregon, grindcore quartet Transient unleash a devastating barrage of blast beats and shredding guitars. Their debut LP is nothing short of intense; fusing together the edginess of crust with grind that makes for a sound containing the energetic spryness of enthusiasm while maintaining a level of seriousness like they’re veterans of the genre.
“Bottom Feeder” and “Goad” open the album up and completely lay waste. With a crusty bassline on the latter track, Transient kicks things into gear and what comes out is a sound completely driven by speed. Krysta Martinez’s vocals are raw and unfiltered, throat-ripping at times but her coming from a metal act gives her the grounding needed to do grindcore. “Narcissus Nemesis” is where the listener can feel the might of Jesse Schriebman’s drumming. All these blast beats make for a gigantic wave of noise, culminating in a breakdown towards the end of the track before picking up speed again. Transient’s punk roots are certain; sure, there are blast beats that make their LP grindcore, but their infusing of crust punk into their grinding assault makes for something more interesting than the typical grindcore act. They have an inkling for structure instead of breaking all the conventions of it; “Antipositivism” isn’t just a fast song — it contains a lot of structure that Transient supplants with speed and intensity.
When Josh Graham officially left the line-up of Neurosis, as their live visual artist, late last year, it hardly came as a surprise that his own band A Storm of Light would become his sole focus, something that he’s been steadily working on for the last few years with partner in crime, Dominic Seita.
The band’s first two albums, and particularly 2009’s stellar Forgive Us Our Trespasses, saw the band carve out their own sound of doom-imbued sludge metal that certainly plucked a few feathers from Neurosis but had its own flair. However with 2011’s As the Valley of Death Becomes Us, Our Silver Memories Fade, the band flipped the model on its head – shorter songs, faster riffs and a vigorous dose of hooks.
It was definitely a divisive album but a commendable effort that yielded some crushing tunes like ‘Missing’ but also the catchy ‘Leave No Wounds’ that was quite a step away from their earlier material. With Nations To Flames A Storm of Light have maintained the core ideas of As The Valley… but sharpened the edges extensively for what is their most abrasive and ruthless album yet.
The raging dirge of Los Angeles wrecking crew Whip Hand’s Carnal Sect release rings as true as any punk rock released in the last decade possibly can. No pop pretensions, no fancy haircuts (look, these are things I can just tell), and no heartbreak. This is raw anger, unfiltered by any drive other than to swing your arms like an asshole and break whatever gets in the way.
“Worn Throats” comes out of the gate with a fervor that brings to mind the absolutely amazing Full of Hell while also aping “EP’s”-era Peni. There’s nothing subtle about the maybe-a-few-more-but-not-many-more-than-four chord attack on display, and the tension and speed don’t let up through “Temple Mounts” acid-splash insanity or “Slow Electrocution”. “Convalesce” is a croaked ode to medically-induced paranoia, layers of feedback and guitars slashing at the listener’s throat while the vocals crawl along.
I’ve met the ragged brain behind The Vomit Arsonist. One listen through the project’s latest output, “An Occasion for Death” would leave you imagining him as a drugged-out cutter who lives in a dark hole and sleeps on piles of trash. In reality, Andrew Grant is about as personable a fellow as you might find in Eastern Rhode Island. In fact, nearly every person I’ve met involved in creating Power Electronics is the same way. Maybe it’s the cathartic nature of the music that lends them all some sort of inward peace. “An Occasion for Death” certainly sounds as if Grant had gathered up all the bitterness and dank black sludge in the souls of a thousand murderers and filtered it through his own heart, crushing the result into as dark an audio experience as has ever existed. It is an album of unstoppable power, constantly grinding away at the will of the listener.
Finding your path through “An Occasion…” is an exercise in meditative self-injury. From the opening “Think God out of Existence” through to the knife-edged synth swells of “Black Bile”, each track is a pulsing drone meant to lull and engage while simultaneously generating a backdrop of profound illness. Grant’s vocals grind over it all, ranging from a distorted snarl to the raspy effected warble in “Torn Between Will and Desire”. The vocals always ride above the intense drones and serve as the textural focal point despite the battering of the electronic hate wall. While the production might seem overwhelming, the flourishes and textures that emerge with repeated listens draw the listener in with a sense of novelty. I’m still uncovering details buried in the muck of Grant’s audio wall.
Angelfukk Witchhammer, also of Gloria Diaboli and previously of Ouroboros and Rites of Thy Degringolade, founded A.M.S.G. (stands for “Ad Majorem Satanae Gloriam”) back in 2007. After the release of an EP, The Principle of Evil Becomes The Ideal of The Promethean, the band strikes back in a much more malicious and sinister manner with the debut full-length, Anti-Cosmic Tyranny. The album’s six tracks are fueled by the old school black metal spite, but A.M.S.G. also have a few tricks up their sleeve that will make heads turn.
In Anti-Cosmic Tyranny you will find a fair bit of the traditional black metal sound. The typical black metal riffing is present in the majority of the twists and turns that A.M.S.G. take. Evoking chaos in places, for instance in “Reincarnation of the Sun”, with their devastating riffs and frantic drumming. But what is quite exciting is how they can easily step out of chaos and into huge mid tempo parts. That is where A.M.S.G. show that they do not have to just rely on their ferocity in order to make an impact. The riffs of “Sacrificial Chants of Cosmic Separation” become addictive when combined with the great groove of the track, while the hooking melodies of “Gnosis Granted From The Bloodline of Fire” work perfectly on top of the rhythmic foundation of the track.
Known as He Who Crushes Teeth within the substantially engulfing black metal duo Bone Awl, Marco Del Rio unleashed his solo unified vision of blackened post-punk intensity in the form of the deceptively monikered Raspberry Bulbs in 2011. His debut effort Nature Tries Again offered up basic rhythmic tonality swirled between fevered guitar pitches that would have otherwise been dismissed had it not been for the unrelenting screech of Del Rio’s voice. The basement quality production only furthered the peculiar appeal that came from atop the thundering assault that forced its way through your speakers forming itself into an indecipherable force of nature. Two years later Del Rio is back with Raspberry Bulb’s second album, except this time around it features a five-member lineup, and plenty of new and innovative ideas to boot.
The most noticeable difference when it comes to Deformed Worship is the cohesive flow that working with others can bring, all while adding a new psych-induced element to the starkly realized menacing post-punk fray. The ideas culminate into a fortified collective that builds upon Del Rio’s core vision and turns it into a tangible, enigmatic union that comes from several directions into one singular sonic composition. The elements tie together well, balancing the energy and spirit initially forged without venturing into superfluous tirades that can sometimes debase the value of what’s being played and focusing attention more so onto the level of noise created. Wrought with tempo shifts galore, the band matches Del Rio’s inescapably bleak verses with an inexplicable immersion within the fabric of the album itself to generate a vast and expansive portrayal that transcends any predetermined notions about the content therein.
Wolvserpent have been around for quite a number of years yet 2013 sees them release only their second full length effort since 2010 saw them change to Wolvserpent after their initial 2005 inception as Pussygutt. The release of their debut Blood Seed had them taking new steps into droned out, doomed landscapes of sound. Last year’s demo Perigaea was only a taste of things to come and Perigaea Antahkarana builds and learns from those initial recordings to become the monstrous and distressing sophomore album that it is today.
Perigaea Antahkarana flows from deeply felt and atmospheric sounds of nature – crows cawing and a fire crackling – laid over a melancholic and rich string sound (Brittany McConnell) that weaves itself around the increasingly claustrophobic noises and a subtle howling wind. “Threshold:Gateway” and its introductory style is a deftly constructed piece; the mystery that it evokes is dangerously sensual and it leads perfectly into the instantly heavy doom of “Within the Light of Fire” which twists and turns with a blackened soul and a sly, heady rhythm.
Banner Picture by Jeroen Mylle
Oathbreaker’s second full-length, Eros|Anteros, is one of the year’s best hardcore releases, while easily being the most unique. Eros|Anteros claps a meaner thunder than 2011′s Mælstrøm, while upholding that album’s dedication to blending blunt force and intangible elegance. Ten tracks careen from calamity to calm, guarded to vulnerable. Oathbreaker dances on chaos’s edge, reeling in their rage with sharp melody.
Introduction, “(Beeltenis),” fortifies itself with an atmospheric wall that only lightly samples what is to come. “No Rest for the Weary” wastes no time in rising from the fluttering ashes left by “(Beeltenis).” The speed is breakneck but counterbalanced by swirling beauty. “Upheaval” ricochets from beginning to end, triumphantly mounted on punk-soaked riding beats that seize briefly into grim blast beats. “As I Look Into the Abyss” is a spry piece of metallic hardcore, straight from the Converge playbook. Any similarity is brushed aside when the climactic sounds reverberate deep within your chest cavity. “The Abyss Looks Into Me” is, for lack of a better word, quieter, but is also an achingly monumental exercise in emotional torture. “The Abyss Looks Into Me” gasps for air at its midsection as gentle vocals pour over the listener before descending into maddening pain once more.
Germany keeps vomiting out one great hardcore band after another in a seemingly endless bleeding of incredible talent. The last beastly german hardcore band to hit the scene is Svffer a multidimensional hardcore affair once again blending different genres to maximize its destructive yield, but never falling short of delivering a concise, blistering and merciless “classic” hardcore assault at the same time. Svffer feature members of Alpinist and this debut opus was unleashed once again by the extremely forward thinking folks of Vendetta Records, the same folks behind staggering releases by such evolved hardcore bands like Jungbluth, Negative Standards, Children of God and the such.
Put together members of Kill The Client, Baring Teeth and Tyrannosorceress and what you get is old school death metal powerhouse Cleric. The band from Texas, with their full length, Gratum Inferno, is set on bringing back the aura and sound of the old school Swedish death metal scene. That is right guys, if what you like is the classic Sunlight Studios chainsaw guitar sound, combined with the disturbing heavy groove and attitude of the late 80s and early 90s, then Cleric is a band you really want to check out.
The short length of the album (about thirty minutes) makes the listening process even more devastating. Clericbring forth a bludgeoning assault, starting with the disturbing intro of the title track, soon to be followed by the infectious leads, influenced by Dismember and Entombed. The vocals come straight through the abyss, set to drag you into the darkness while the drums and bass are building the shattering groove of the song. Of course Cleric are not as one-dimensional as to only rely on the groove. They unleash in many occasions faster, more aggressive parts, filled with influences from the proto-death metal bands (the paranoid solo in the end of the title track for instance), enriched with sonic characteristics found in the old school US death metal scene.