Metal Gear Solid is an entrancing game series, if not downright awesome. Any band that has the mind to name themselves from the “Outer Heaven” concept from said series must be awesome, right? Correct. For the uninitiated, the aforementioned concept involved ending the exploitation of soldier’s by governments. Stoic as it maybe, the sacrilegious vibe of the name is enticing. Outer Heaven play their war tune slow and heavy, cruel and calculating. This meaner than mean blend of doom metal and hardcore moves like a dull, weighted ax bent on giving the executioner’s block the big red kiss. This seven-track demo will make heads roll.
“Eden Burns” is towering, weaving a mosh-friendly opener with riffs that do nothing short of crush. You will be air-punching, so give yourself plenty of killing room. “Vultures” is a brisk smattering of a track, rife with rage and tangible wrath. Riding it snare like a hellhorse, “Vultures” circles into a “Death Grip,” which like “Eden Burns” before it, was meant for inflicting joyous pain. “Vessel Empty” has a dash of Suffocation that finds itself strangled among the metallic hardcore backdrop, making it one of the demo’s nastier, more complex confections.
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.
What makes a song ring true or false? For that matter, what makes any fiction work? Writers have to inhabit the souls of all manner of people, but if all they could express was themselves, every novel would be about the struggles of maintaining access to wi-fi. Folk music runs into this problem more than most, as its themes, pastoralism and working-class solidarity and a general aspect of blue-collar-ness, often stand distant from the musicians singing about them. Perhaps that is why so much of it scans as inauthentic; after all, what does a Brooklyn-bound hipster know about Appalachia, about rural poverty? Probably little or nothing at all.
The Sterling Sisters overcomes this barrier not with nuance but dynamite. Hale sounds like a Spaghetti Western; wide-open plains and three-way shootouts and clipped, iconic dialogue. There’s the jumpy bass of early Uncle Tupelo, surf-rock guitars, and furiously strummed banjo, mosh pit-worthy as anything else today. In other words, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
“Orbita“, the remarkable debut of Phobonoid, a one man band from Italy. “Orbita” is a conceptual and cinematic journey about the end of the civilization on Mars witnessed by Phobos, where he also meets his brother Deimos, on the already-destroyed surface of Mars. Just for curiosity, and for those who don’t know, Phobos and Deimos are the two known moons of Mars who were baptized with the names taken from same gods from Greek mythology. Phobos is the God of Fear/Panic and Deimos, the God of Terror and Fear as well. ”Orbita” introduces a whole new and refreshing sound. Black metal like this doesn’t come too often. Phobonoid blends black metal and doom with industrial and electronic sounds that seem to come from outer space. Besides being mastered by Karl Daniel Liden (who have worked with Breach, Terra Tenebrosa, Switchblade, The Old Wind, etc.) everything else here on “Orbita” has been self-produced in Phobonoid’s home-studio, so this is really almost a DIY release by Phobonoid to whom I take my hat off.
Soundwise, “Orbita” sounds like if black space metal band Darkspace and industrial doomsters P.H.O.B.O.S (curiously this band has nothing to do with Phobonoid) were melded into one. The beats are clearly industrial as they are performed by a digital drum and the sound of the guitar brings the best of two worlds: black and doom metal. The voice whispers and hisses in the background, enhancing this dreary and menacing atmosphere.
Darkest of the dark and evil black/death metal has been enjoying a healthy rejuvenation over the last few years, with plenty of bands spewing forth their caustic riffs of old school fury and strains of modern flair. Labels like Nuclear War Now and Dark Descent have been vital cogs in this machine, releasing some key records of late, and it’s the latter that takes the stage this time, releasing Svn Eater, the second LP from London outfit Lvcifyre.
Abalam marks the return of the Danish killing machine Hexis, one of the most promising bands and most avantgarde within the genre. After a handful of EPs, splits and some tours across Europe and South America, where the band left a trail of destruction wherever they went, Hexis left everyone on their knees begging for more. Well, do not despair. Your prayers were heard and have been answered. Hexis are back and they are angrier than ever.
First, and to contextualize you better when you listen to this album, the title: Abalam. In the Christian demonology, Abalam is the name given to the demon that possesses the human body and forces him to commit profane acts of lust among others, and this demon involves himself in such a way that sometimes the only way out is death.
Just out on Video Disease Records is this self-titled seven inch from weirdo hardcore band Umbilical Cord. Spastic snarls and high pitched screeches are spat over surprisingly melodic and idiosyncratic guitars with occasional bursts of Greg Ginn-ish atonal shred and psychedelic riffs that are as much feedback as playing. ‘Two Seconds’ in particular is filled with achingly emotive arpeggios and melodic chords, contrasted with the vocals that sound like the frontman is actually being strangled by an umbilical cord. This release flies by in less than five minutes but easily packs in more creativity and fuck-it sonic adventurism than an hour’s worth of by-the-numbers hardcore.
Two of Oregon’s best team up to bring forth the waves of despair and sadness. Hell, the one man band of M.S.W, is sure keeping busy. Three full-length albums and four split releases since the band’s conception back in 2006, and all of them up to a very high level of quality. On the other hand, the band led by A.L.N. (also part of the live line-up of Hell), named Mizmor is another rising force in the underground scene of Oregon. With their self-released debut album, they presented to the world their twisted doom/sludge/drone/black vision.
This release is being introduced by Hell and their fifteen minute long opus, “Foetorem Timere”, the clean bits of which will cause a mesmerizing paralysis of your brain. For the first nine minutes you will be overwhelmed by the clean guitars and emotional depth that Hell can reach. The setting for the band is a world filled with despair and loneliness, where everything is just waiting to die. There is a certain coldness about the song that makes it stand out in such a unique way, while the inclusion of strings even further expands the desolate ambiance and the voice samples make this listen more unearthly. Finally, the doom/sludge riffs are brought in to redeem you from this torturous build up, causing the whole sonic landscape that the band has built up for the last nine minutes to collapse, as the appearance of crazy effects on the vocals and their formation amidst these heavy riffs causes apocalyptic visions to enter your mind.