Imagine, if you will, a deep hole that goes on for miles, with no end in sight. Imagine you are at the bottom of this hole, with no light to guide you, and the only way out is upward. This idea of complete nothingness, the blackness that suffocates is the soundscape that Philadelphia’s Hivelords create. It is atmospheric depression, a dystopia crafted through distorted vocals, funeral drumming, and bone-chilling riffs that grab hold of the listener and send them off into its murky depths.
A followup to 2012’s self-released Grand Comlech, Cavern Apothecary is a more sludgier, more drone-infested album than its predecessor. The opening track, “Atavus Lich”, is an elegy that shakes the very foundation of the soul. It plunges the listener into the dark from the opening riff; the kind of riffing reminiscent of early black metal but with influences from Master of Reality for the sludgy overtones. “Ativus Lich” is the summoning of a monster — a demon which walks the planet in search of souls to harvest.
If a band named HERDER is promoted with the term „Herder is harder“ it better delivers the goods. I mean, there are tons of bands who’d be weaker than HERDER, if that sentence speaks the truth. Tons of really, really hard bands. But restraint certainly never was a prime feature of this Dutch outfit, and so the expectations towards the band’s new EP Horror Vacui aren’t exactly low.
Horror Vacui is the band’s third proper release and definitely focuses on HERDER’s strength – which is to reign the world with riffs hard as steel, an absolutely skull-smashing rhythm section and the most abrasive vocals Europe has offer at the moment. It’s hard to pin down what discerns HERDER from other bands sloshing through the bottomless swamps in the nether land between Sludge and Stoner Rock, but HERDER have this one secret ingredient that sets them apart from the whimps and posers who’ll have to leave the hall right now.
Sure enough the guitar work is really excellent. Not only is there not one single bad riff on Horror Vacui, the leads and solos also proof that there ain’t no noobs handling the strings. Tempo changes within the songs are placed wisely and make sure that you feel like getting dragged through the mud by a badass motorcycle-gang. And better beware of HERDER when they’re slowing down – getting hit by a sledgehammer feels nice compared to that experience. But it’s not just that HERDER’s music is so incredible heavy, it has also this very gritty, menacing and dirty feeling to it. It’s like watching Rambo and The Evil Dead simultaneously on the same screen – resulting in the strong need to punch somebody in the face and wetting yourself at the same time.
This is desolation. This is ruin. This is death and decay.
This is Shadow of the Torturer whose molesting death/doom dirges are simply devastating while also vast in their scope. Grief and sorrow run rampant through these vile slabs of sonic decay and anguish, a palpable sense of hopelessness dripping from each spine-tingling lead guitar line, which is met by an equally morose guttural vocal. The Portland band borrows many of the shades from Mourning Beloveth and Indesinence’s palettes but has contorted the model into something that they can call their own.
Hello there Arizona! Sunny, warm… and it appears, really fucking pissed too! From the sunny and usually less musically roudy Grand Canyon State hail infact an extremely crusty, violent, confrontational and wacked out hardcore punk band with a super cool name, Windmill of Corpses! These young lads from Northern Arizona have been lurking in the underground for a while now, playing in and around their native state and even venturing further into the deep south of the country, but nevertheless their awesome debut demo (which has been out for a while now), the first manifestation of their musical intent, thankfully made it into our hands and oh boy what a joy it was to discover its existence.
Power violence can be a bit repetitive. This sub-strain of hardcore tends to wear on the listener, bludgeoning them with its high speed and intensity until they succumb to its velocity. This is not the case with Cheap Art’s Desocialized, and it is in fact the complete opposite of what the genre has come to be.
Cheap Art is a foursome from Atlanta, Georgia. Incorporating a vicious attack of male and female vocals a la Despise You, Desocialized is a gem. Surely, this could prove difficult to write about; what else can be said about fast attacks and blast beats? The band makes this task easier by switching up their style — they change direction multiple times. Right from the opening note, the EP is a kick in the teeth. A bone-crunching riff ushers in a mighty breakdown; a kind of hammer drop one can expect from doom metal but works intensely well here as an introduction to the mayhem that will most definitely ensue.
Vost is a solo ambient/drone project of a composer based in Portland, Oregon. No drums or vocals, just slow minimalist sounds. Some of which sound like a howling wind passing through heavy old machinery. Other parts have languid but steadily skulking bass which give them a haunting, dreamlike quality.
With Vost you get an alluring, eerie, cinematic soundscape, though quiet and warm in nature. The mood is driven by a dissonant minimalism, like a lucid dream in an industrial world of corporate feudalism or the onset of darkness at the end of a long day.
The tracks “Vast I” and “Vast II” are available as a name your price download from their Bandcamp page.
Photo by Taylor
Label: Yersinia Pestis
Since 2008, Torture Chain has been releasing small snippets of genius masquerading as demos while simultaneously hiding behind an impenetrable veil of secrecy, letting their music stand alone to speak for itself. Every year since their induction, the band’s material has sold out and been long sought after by fans who were chomping at the bit for a full length to grace the light of day. At long last that time has arrived in the form of Torture Chain’s latest offering, Mutilating Astral Entities, which serves up 7 brand new tracks of the same blistering punk-infused, straight ahead black metal that has made this band oh so enjoyable.
The album is broken into sections introduced with short instrumentals that set the pace for the following tracks, allowing for a much more aware discernment before having your senses obliterated for an additional 25+ minutes. These movements are methodical, carefully constructed, and painstakingly executed as to capture the majestic aural downpour this band construes and bends to their will. Winding its way betwixt, a revolutionary take on how black metal is slowly taking on a more maniacal, hybridized approach and transmogrifying into something that may never truly be grasped.
Every cloud has a silver lining. While we all wait patiently for a new Cobalt record, we find ourselves becoming reacquainted with the sorrowful folk band, Man’s Gin, with their second album Rebellion Hymns who include Cobalt’s Erik Wunder in their ranks.
Meshing dark folk, country and the twang of Americana, Wunder has proven what a versatile and adventurous player he can be and joined by companions in Josh Lozano (upright bass) and Scott Edward (guitar, piano and lyrical contributions), Rebellion Hymns is, simply put, a staggeringly impressive record from the opening notes to its dying moments. Clocking in at over an hour, Rebellion Hymns is a dizzying journey through raw emotions and the human condition.
These acoustic driven folk ballads of despair are powerful odes to “the bottle and wasteland America” but are still soaked in an overwhelming sense of frailty and foreboding. Wunder’s voice is laden with the imposing inflection of Layne Staley and Eddie Vedder, and haunted by the ghosts of Townes Van Zandt, which makes for a totally invigorating presence and bolsters the frail/powerful dynamic of this album. If you were to imagine the vocals of Patrick Walker on 40 Watt Sun’s The Inside Room for just a moment. While he and Wunder sound different vocally, they both perfectly harness the two sides of their vocal chords in a devastatingly affecting way.
Cast your mind back two years to a little demo that surfaced by a four-piece from Oakland. We talked about it (albeit badly, I was terrible at this whole writing thing back then – no sassy comments please) then, and we included it on our “Top 6 Demos” of 2011 because it was absolutely incredible. DEMO 2011 was three tracks of pure, unadulterated anguish and we’ve been waiting for Lycus to throw a full length out into world ever since. It’s been a long, long wait but holy crap, it was worth it.
Tempest takes the raw spirit from that early demo and moulds it into something altogether more beautiful and destructive. The three new tracks here are more profound and mature compositions, and to hear the curve into new soundscapes is as exciting as it is terrifyingly heavy. Lycus have on their hands a record of truly magnificent stature, and their first full length is quite the achievement.
Let’s chat about France some more. Talk about a country that’s become a hotbed of heavy music in recent years. Whether it’s chaotic and brutal or beautiful and sublime… or a mix of all of those things, our Gallic friends really have been on it and France has definitely become one of the most fertile and exciting breeding grounds for metal and hardcore. Not just in Europe but worldwide.
Enter Erlen Meyer, a four piece from Limoges with their self-titled album coming to us via Shels Music. Playing a heavily layered strain of violent sludge, this record is a bleak and harrowing listen from the get-go but it’s infected with flourishes of emotive catharsis that make bearing with it all the more rewarding.
If anything, the album is an endurance test though. Clocking in at 53 minutes, this is a little longer than their contemporaries’ records so there is certainly a lot at play here. Perhaps Erlen Meyer could have down with trimming off a track or two to keep this tight and concise but for the most part, this record is a joy.