The Body are a band that one can really feel have a masterpiece brewing inside of them, an album that sees them transcend their previous material. The duo are not there just yet though, but their trajectory towards the destination remains unbroken for the most part, with this next checkpoint, in the form of a short EP, Master, We Perish.
2010’s All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood was an album that really put The Body on the map and the subsequent collaborative record Nothing Passes with Braveyoung only bolstered that position. Master, We Perish is the band’s second EP effort since then, clearly an example of the band revving their engine for the next full-length and it certainly lays down a haunting and invigorating gauntlet for things to come.
Between sick sludgy riffs and chaotic drums that almost beckon a war, the one trait of The Body that has truly made them stick out is Chip King’s vocals. Agonising is not the word to use, it wouldn’t do it justice. His yelps and shrieks are ungodly and almost depraved, there doesn’t appear to be a technique or method to his madness, these vocals are simply caustic bursts of tortured emotion.
Alright, let’s the get the introductions out of the way first. This is VHÖL, a “super-group” of sorts originally started by John Cobbett (Hammers of Misfortune, Amber Asylum) and Aesop Dekker (Agalloch, Worm Ouroboros) after the incredible Ludicra called it a day (sigh). Mike Scheidt of YOB was brought on board to lend his discernible vocal skills to the project and Cobbett’s colleague from Hammers of Misfortune and Amber Asylum Sigrid Sheie joined on bass. And lo, VHÖL was born.
The sound of VHÖL is a little harder to pinpoint than their origins and with such a diverse group of musicians there’s always the chance that too much will get thrown into the mix – too many cooks spoil the broth – and whilst with VHÖL there’s the obvious nods to black metal, to thrash, to progressive metal, to hardcore by way of d-beat, at no point does that become overwhelming or overpowering. VHÖL’s strength lies in the abilities of the musicians involved – Scheidt’s voice is powerful and commanding and here he lets loose with a glorious abandon, wailing and rasping and lifting the sound beyond mere heavy metal whilst the guitar of Cobbett soars above the tracks adding depth and nuance whilst a tangible grungy dirtiness flows through the filthy bass lines of Sheie.
Montclair, one of the many New Jersey cities that dot the shadow of Manhattan, lies on the map along the train lines stretching to the south of the lower state. The city’s convenient situation near the many highway hubs of New Jersey make this stop particularly accessible for both audience and and artist alike between the south and the metropolitan areas along the coast above.
In this city, under a stretch of restaurants off the main drag, is a former meat locker turned venue and recording studio known appropriately as the Meat Locker. And it it here that I got in touch with Montclair, NJ’s flagship stoner punk band, Dutchguts.
It’s these guys who set the tone of the venue as a place to come to if you are looking for loud, harsh, discomforting punk and metal. They’ve also taken pains over the years to amass the equipment and skills necessary to self-produce almost all material for themselves, which they’ve given to the punk masses over the years in the form of a flurry of relatively short but content-heavy EPs. Their latest release, Losing Sleep, has been a huge payoff to that experience. It’s a huge jump in quality from previous years, which is not to sell the band short of course – but these four tracks coming in for a total runtime of 10:28 offer the perfect addition to any tone/gear/punk/brutality fanatic’s rotation.
Label: Daemon Worship Prod.
Neither Andramelech or Serpent Noir are new names in the world of metal music. For those familiar with each band, you know the degree of punishment that each delivers on an almost year by year basis in both recorded and live performance. However, if you’ve never listened to either band you’re missing out- these bands fucking destroy and will warp your view of what it means to play black metal. Gateway to the Nightside won’t likely be listeners first experience with either band, but it serves as an immensely entertaining portrait of what each band represents both musically and conceptually.
Andramelech introduce Gateway to the Nightside with “The Trefoil Crown”, a jarring, misanthropic burst of black metal. The riffing on this song is smart– it doesn’t overstay its welcome nor does it confuse technicality with ease, there’s real substance here. “The Trefoil Crown” gives the listener a push-pull of black metal urgency and a sense of death metal cynicism. It’s hard to find anything about the track that isn’t worth complimenting; structurally it is sound and I can’t help but to compliment that. The second Andramelech track “The Voiceless Verb of Vovin” begins much slower than their initial track but quickly raises the stakes when vocalist Antithesis elevates the song into more foreboding heights. The song toys with this relationship between comfort and fear, switching between parts that are slower and orienting then quickly rejecting them for a more destructive, bending sonic blast. Each track is truly wonderful to listen to repeatedly.
Festering somewhere in Galway, stoner doom three-piece Weed Priest are a band with a self-explanatory name, it must be said. They say first impressions are everything and when Weed Priest introduce themselves at first, they make it rather clear what you’re getting – a haze of smoky, murky stoner doom conjured from the abyss. Having played a number of shows over the years and released demo recordings, it seemed like the band were working on a full-fledged release at pretty much the same pace that their music trudges but lo and behold, Weed Priest’s self-titled is upon us and it’s an adventurous and brave record for a debut.
When I listen to Mánégarmr, the latest from Belgium’s Hessian, I get pulled in by the guitars. Ostensibly a hardcore group, their playing nonetheless crosses the line into thrash, doom, and occasionally even grind, all thanks to those aforementioned guitars. They have a tone you’d feel uncomfortable living next door to, that you’d watch from closed blinds, convinced it has a darker secret. It buzzes, screeches, whines, scrapes, slashes, and even, on very rare occasions, sounds like a guitar.
Mánégarmr is full of all those things that other recent releases on Southern Lord possess: incomprehensible growls, blast-beat drums, bottom-basement production, awesome cover art, lyrics like “SWALLOWING NAILS.” But it’s that vicious guitar work that sets it apart, moving from full-bodied chords to blackened needling and back again, even throwing in an awesome solo or two for the true metal crowd, like on stand-out “Hollow Eyes.”
Ramlord give a harsh soundscape of the everyday sounds of a bitter life. All arranged into a hundred different rhythms. Cynical and sardonic they deliver the ugliness of life, with subjects from a lifeless old age, blind acceptance and the monotony of modern life. A growling sore throat soars above the musick and delivers lines like ‘Consume hard drugs and mutilate yourself’ or more direct minimal lyrics like ‘Fuck all…pigs’.
The album opens with ‘Nihil Fucking Lifeblood’ which follows a heavy musical tradition of starting with a slow pacing melodic riff, then stopping abruptly for some real heavy chaos. The difference here is from there they go from crusty punk to blast beats to slow sludge. They have this type of unconventional song structure throughout. Lots of changes but the the songs still maintain a decent flow. I suppose if you wanted to label the band you’d use something along the lines of blackened crust. But there is a lot going on here from crusty sludge to whatever other heavy down tuned genre you can think of.
Debut album for the Swedes progressive/experimental post metallers and you really should not miss this one. Moth Gatherer in their debut album, A Bright Celestial Light, while stepping on the shoulders of giants of the genre such as Breach, Neurosis and Cult of Luna bring five truly excellent tracks that will not leave any fan of heavy experimental music disappointed.
With the inclusion of electronic elements to give a more psychedelic dimension to their music, something that is further added by the ingenious use of synths, keyboards and various effects to build a daunting atmosphere, the album will remain unforgettable to anyone after the very first few minutes. What is even more intriguing is the emotional charge that comes with the bands music, from the heavier cathartic moments of songs like “The Water That We All Come To Need” to the melancholic lead guitar parts, for instance in “Intervention” (which reminds me a bit of The Atlas Moth in places), A Bright Celestial Light transfers an extreme variety of emotions to the listener.
Band’s like Sweden’s Blessings instill a certain kind of emotion in me that I’m not sure I can accurately describe. The relatively young 3-piece blends so many different styles, all of which I like, that I find myself wondering why this hasn’t been done as well before. The emotion that rises from the perfect mixing of sounds, textures, styles, and influences, could simply be elation; maybe someone’s finally done it?
The band cites everything from Black Flag and Unsane to Darkthrone and Swans, which are quite apparent the more you listen to Bittervatten. The jutting 90′s post hardcore thrust of the opener “Bittervatten“ and its eventual noisy collapse gives but only a small hint at on coming dirges like “Seven Blessings” which is the most obvious nod to Swans here. “Worms of the Earth” is a d-beating punk frenzy which leads into the mid-pace stomp of “Strings of Red” and “The Shrine,” the latter having a nice dose of ABINS era Darkthrone to it.
Vuyvr’s debut album, “Eiskalt” is one of the most fresh and stimulating albums coming out this year that will probably shock the most puritan of the black metal puritans while on the other hand, it will please many of the new generation of black metal fans out there.
Influenced by the old masters the genre, Vuyvr’s sound appears to be quite traditional yet it contains a big dose of originality for it to be contextualized into nowadays. “Eiskalt” is one of those albums that after a first hearing it might not glue immediately with us, this specific case is one of those albums that must be assessed with particular attention and specially, with time for you to discover them buried deep in the frost which abounds in this album. Only then you’ll see that the more you listen to it, the more it will grow on you. Vuyvr’s sound is all about simplicity, releasing great sharpened riffs that could cut a mountain into half and vocals with that just right amount of harshness, fitting perfectly into the this kind of record you’re about to hear. All of this entangled in a very stripped down, raw, straightforward production.
Let’s look a little bit more inside this Swiss blizzard..