A place for me to spew out my opinion on music mostly of the heavy kind.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Young and In the Way - I Am Not What I Am

Young and In The Way – I Am Not What I Am
Label – Independent

Year of Release – 2011

This young American band started life in 2009 and I Am Not What I Am is the bands second full length after a couple of eps and a debut full length which was also released independently. This is one of those albums that pretty much came out of nowhere. Young and In the Way play a mix of hardcore, crust and black metal that is somehow abrasive and at the same time, furiously catchy.

The album starts with a moody instrumental that borrows its title from Lovecraft and sounds a bit in the post metal scene but with The Chaotic and Bloody World Around Us, the band come all guns blazing in a hardcore meets black metal way and completely destroy. Other highlights include the awesome Ascending the White Mountain with its Trap Them meets Deathspell Omega vibe and effortless changes in tempo, Leaving Nothing but the Absence of Everything which sounds like The Exploited on speed, the unbridled chaotic noisecore of If Only That So Many Dead Lie Around and title song I Am Not What I Am which alternates hardcore fury with black metal's dissonant best.

Where the band really succeed is in their ability to change tempos and and avoid the pitfalls of this type of extreme music. The songs have character and don't merge into one faceless noisy entity particularly with the use of subtle melodies and mellow passages that alternate brilliantly with the often chaotic hardcore and black metal elements.

I haven't been able to find a lot of info on this band but Young and In the Way deserve all the support they can get. If your tastes run towards the noisier side of hardcore like Trap Them or even the crusty black metal of bands like Dishammer then you'll probably like this one a fair bit. Worth checking out.

Repuked - Pervertopia

Repuked – Pervertopia
Label – Soulseller
Year of Release – 2011

Sweden's Repuked are a sick, twisted and fun bunch. Their take on old school death metal sounds like a mix and match session of Autopsy, Abscess, old Unleashed and Sweden's own d-beat crust punk scene.

Right from album opener Chemically Wasted its quite apparent that the band want to have fun. The intro to the song is reminiscent of Swedish death metal while the blasting and guttural vocals could easily make Chris Reifert proud. Gag! sounds like a furious cross between something like Skitsystem and autopsy while the slowed down section with the deep gurgling vocal effects remind me of Impetigo and Ultimo Mondo Cannibale. All good places to be and these varied influences help in making an album that's always interesting. Title song Pervertopia is probably the highlight of the album coming across as fun and catchy with a chorus that you cant help but growl along to and a superb catchy main riff. Brainboiler is more solid death metal while Fucking Something Dead is the closest the band get to some serious Autopsy worship and Morgue of Whores is awesome in its simplicity and changes of tempo. The album closes out with the epic Toxic Constipation which is one hell of a slow and ominous dirge.

Repuked are not too bothered about technicality or bringing anything new to the table. The band sounds like they're having fun with these songs and that translates into songwriting that throws more than a few nods in the direction of Autopsy but also makes these songs memorable and great fun to hear. This is a very promising debut and while there is absolutely nothing new here, Pervertopia is an album well worth tracking down for fans of the genre.

Ulcerate - The Destroyers of All

Ulcerate - The Destroyers of All
Year of Release - 2011
Label - Willowtip

New Zealand's Ulcerate have been at it now since 2000 and Destroyers of All is the band's third full length album released earlier this year. Ulcerate are a bit of a unique proposition. Being on Willowtip means that a prefix of technical is almost certain to be added to the band's death metal but Ulcerate prove over and over on Destroyers of All that they are a lot more than just technical death metal.

Right from album opener Burning Skies, it's apparent that the band are on to something a little bit different here. Michael Hoggard's riffs are mid paced, dissonant and heavy as fuck with more in common with the likes of Blut Aus Nord than your regular tech death bands. Jamie Saint Merat plays the drums like he's the bastard child of Pete Sandoval and Brann Dailor, almost intent on filling up every bit of space left by the often lumbering guitars while bass player and vocalist Paul Kelland sits in between the guitars and drums and creates his own space, often accentuating the rhythm and sometimes following the guitars to give it more beef.

Its almost like the band use dissonance as a weapon right through this album. While the pace of the guitars is close to doom and post metal territory, its the angular dissonance that reminds of a slowed down Immolation and occasionally Gorguts. Case in point is The Hollow Idols which is probably the closest the band come to death metal on this album. The dense riffage weaves through a song that is brutal, technical, dissonant and melodic all at the same time before ending in slowed down post metal fashion with the bass acting as counterpoint to the guitars and the drummer slowly fading out.

This is not an easy album to get into. While hardened death metal enthusiasts will straight away see the similarities to Immolation, that is just on the surface. What we have here is a band that is unafraid to mix things up as death metal, dissonant black metal of the French persuasion and post metal ala Isis meet headlong and battle for supremacy. The winner as it turns out is Ulcerate who manage to hold these disparate influences together and come up with an album that is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

Mitochondrion - Parasignosis

Mitochondrion - Parasignosis
Year of Release - 2011
Label - Profound Lore

Canada's Mitochondrion first came to my attention a couple of years ago with their debut Archaeaeon which was an impressive slab of dirty black death metal with the band managing to mix a dark evil atmosphere with some heavy as fuck guitar playing.

Onwards to 2011 and the band has released their second full length in Parasignosis and business has never been this filthy. The album opens with the lengthy three part Pestilentiam Intus Vocamus, Voluntatem Absolvimus. Part I which starts on an atmospheric note before moving on to bludgeon the listener with an attack that was slightly similar to Averse Sefira but with more death metal in the tone as the rhythm section pounds out a heavy as fuck beat while the guitars play in the background before bursting forth on Part II and truly unleashing hell with the chaos and raw fury of Part III, the 10+ minutes of Tetravirulence where the band creates a song that is dense and claustrophobic with enough tricks and turns and sheer ass kicking riffs to completely capture the attention of the listener while being ridiculously heavy. This is atmospheric death metal like few bands can play. Trials sounds like Portal channeled through classic Morbid Angel while the title song reminds me of a sicker, filthier Averse Sefira. Banishment is another lengthy song that is face ripping in its heaviness and once again displays the bands penchant for writing songs that are an exercise in controlled chaos. The album also comes with a couple of short ambient interludes and another lengthy outro that would somehow seem redundant in most other albums but here, its a much needed slowing down and tapering out of the music. Almost like the war is over at the end of the incredible Kathenotheism but the band was thoughtful enough to let the survivors pick themselves up over the next 10 minutes of cold dark atmosphere. Superb.

While the guitars are front and centre on this album often creating riffs that are suffocating in their intensity, it's the drumming that holds the songs together. Karl Goddard almost plays a rock solid straight martial beat and allows the guitarists to create dark and intricate songs that are always dancing on the edge of chaos. What the band is really good at is creating atmosphere without ever reducing the levels of intensity. The music is always abrasive and in your face often creating an impenetrable wall of sound that is quite disturbing by itself but also creating an atmosphere that is suffocating in its claustrophobic intensity.

Parasignosis is an album that is frightening in its level of intesity. Claustrophobia is a word I've used repeatedly here and its with good reason. In terms of comparison, Mitochondrion is like Portal and Averse Sefira in a boxing ring. This is scary extreme metal, on par with anything Portal has done. Not for the faint of heart but essential for fans of extreme metal.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dead Flesh Fashion - Thorns

Dead Flesh Fashion – Thorns

Year of Release – 2011

Label - Midsummer Records

This band released a very impressive debut a couple of years ago called Anchors. The band played noisy, dissonant hardcore and sounded like they were on the edge of chaos. The band specialised in off time grooves and a sludgy sound that was somewhat similar to Gaza.

Thorns, the band's follow up to Anchors is more of the same but with the added advantage of better songwriting and a greater sense of dynamics. Right from the album opener Flies, it's apparent that this band has evolved from 2008. The dissonant Jesus Lizard like guitars that open the song are backed up by an amazing rhythm section that plays counterpoint in a lurching lumbering manner before the band gets on the same page and pummels the listener with its dissonant heavy as fuck grooves. It's also quite apparent that the band has a much better grasp of dynamics this time around. The transitions from loud to soft and fast to slow are seamless and Thorns isn't just a one trick pony. Kissing the Neck of Inertia is another great song with an awesome dissonant groove and enough technicality to make most modern death metal bands pee themselves. (III) sounds like a bastard child of Coalesce and Today is the Day while Where the Night Goes for Orchid is vaguely melodic but maintains the band's trademark dissonant groove and penchant for being just heavy as fuck.

I suppose you already know if you'll like this. The band is heavy and manage to build an impenetrable wall of noise while making sure that each song retains its individual flavour. I suppose the roots of this band lie in hardcore but at the same time Dead Flesh Fashion are a lot more than just that. The musicianship is of a very high standard through out and while Botch and Today is the Day probably played a part in their formative years, today the music sounds like a heavier The Ocean with emphasis on the groove and excellent songwriting chops.

Thorns is an album worth checking out particularly if you like bands like Gaza and Today is the Day or even like The Ocean and want something a little less progressive and a lot more heavy. Dead Flesh Fashion is a name worth remembering.

Necros Christos - Doom of the Occult

Necros Christos - Doom of the Occult
Year of Release - 2011
Label - Ajna Offensive

Germany's Necros Christos has been around for ten years now and Doom of the Occult is the band's second full length album and follow up to Triune Impurity Rites from 2007. This album though was my encounter with the band and i have to say right at the start, this is some really impressive extreme metal.

If I was forced to classify the band's sound, then death-doom would probably be a fair term. However, what makes this band special is the sheer depth in their songwriting and the ability to invoke an atmosphere of doom and darkness while still retaining an element of catchy songwriting where importance is given to hooks and grooves and making each song memorable.

The band write these heavy but slow riffs that have a tendency to get stuck in your head with hypnotic effect and while the songs can get oppressively heavy they're broken up by these short instrumental pieces that vary between Eastern folk and eerie choral pieces. The result is an album that never gets monotonous and manages to retain interest right through its 73 odd minutes of playing time. Case in point is the 20 odd minutes right in the middle of the album starting with Invoked from Carrion Slumber which is a mid paced classic death metal song that sounds like a doomy Morbid Angel followed by Gate 2 which is a delicate acoustic piece that's very Egyptian sounding followed by Temple tx.99 which retains the Egyptian flavour but with an eerie synth before the massive and ominous opening riff of album highlight Doom of Kali Ma - Pyramid of Shakti Love - Flame of Master Shiva kicks off and the band are back to sounding completely heavy and powerful.

Imagine a slow Morbid Angel with pronounced Celtic Frost influences or a far superior version of Dead Congregation and you'll be close to what Necros Christos does on Doom of the Occult. This is massive, heavy music but at the same time it's also very well thought out and superbly written while managing to sound completely original.

Death metal album of the year? Probably too soon to tell but it's going to take an absolute classic to topple Doom of the Occult from it's current pedestal.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Trap Them - Darker Handcraft

Trap Them – Darker Handcraft
Year of Release – 2011
Label – Prosthetic Records

I suppose Trap Them are at heart a hardcore band. The songs are fast and occasionally threaten to leave the listener with bleeding ears. 2008s Seizures in Barren Praise was a demolition derby set to music and Trap Them became a regular on my playlist.

Now, 3 years later Darker Handcraft sees the band hit its absolute musical peak. The songs are furious and razor sharp but at the same time this is also the most diverse album the band has put together yet. The tempos are all mostly fast but the band veer from hardcore, thrash, death metal and moments of Converge inspired lunacy to craft an album that is exhilarating from start to finish. Guitarist Brian Izzi is the real star on this album as he seamlessly creates songs that are ferocious in their energy and dissonance while also being catchy enough to make me want to jump around and break stuff. The rhythm section with new drummer Chris Maggio from Coliseum and Steve Lacour on bass is tight and locked down into grooves that are perfect counter points to the raging riffs and grooves of Izzi. Vocalist Brian Izzi once again turns in an utterly deranged vocal performance that just makes these songs even heavier.

However, its not all speed riffing and tinnitus inducing noise. What makes Trap Them so fucking awesome is knowing just when to drop the hammer and slow things down. They can rip it up with the best of them but at the same time have enough dynamics in the songs to make it stick in your heads. In fact it's as the album progresses that the songs get better and better. There's a lot of depth in this album and for 12 songs in 30 minutes, the band never gets repetitive, monotonous or boring.

This is the band's best album by a long way and if you've been a fan of their previous work then you know that's saying a lot and if you've never heard them before then Darker Handcraft is the perfect place to start. Slot somewhere between Coalesce, Integrity and Converge for the uninitiated and a few steps above Seizures for Barren Praise. Darker Handcraft is essential.

Parasytic - Poison Minds

Parasytic – Poison Minds
Year of Release – 2011
Label – Relapse

Parasytic's debut Hymn from 2008 was a stand out debut with its crusty thrash attack and the god like Erik Larson behind the drum kit. Still it somehow managed to slip beneath the notice of most people.

Poison Minds is the bands follow up album and business is still raging.
Right from the pummeling opener Ire of War it's clear that the band are hell bent on stringing together furious riffage with Larson's awesome drumming and some supremely angry vocals. The songs are crusty in the vein of Discharge but also have the kind of thrash riffs that are reminiscent of Ride the Lightening era Metallica. Feast of Fools has an awesome hardcore riff that lays the foundation for some angry crossover. Uprise with its slow build sounds like classic Amebix and Larson again pulls of a stunning performance on this song while album highlight Traitor is groovy and catchy while still sounding furious thanks to vocalist Ethan Zell.

Where the band really succeeds is in putting together songs that take the best from thrash, crust and hardcore and backing it with solid songwriting. Larson's drumming right through the 25 odd minutes of this album is solid and adds to the songs but its the guitar playing of Nick Poulos from Cannabis Corpse that really helps make each song stand out. The riffs on this album will rip your face off.

Parasytic seem relatively unknown and with Poison Minds getting a vinyl release and then a digital download only from Relapse, chances are that this album too will slip under the radar of most fans of this type of music. However, this is some high quality metal and fans of thrash, hardcore, crust and extreme metal in general owe it to themselves to hunt down this little gem.

Assassin - Breaking the Silence

Assassin – Breaking the Silence
Year of Release – 2011

Label – SPV

Assassin originally started life in 1983 and their debut Upcoming Terror from 1986 is a solid album in the vein of early Destruction but with a clear bent towards classic heavy metal. The band couldn't quite follow up that debut with a quality release and after some terrible luck split up. The band's back now though, following up on the similarly titled demo from 2008 and riding on the resurgent interest in thrash metal.

The album starts with the kickass title song. Breaking the Silence as a song is better than anything the band has done before. Sounding completely possessed and somewhere between Destruction and Razor, this song should make any thrash fan very happy. Raise in the Dark continues the pounding with some more light-speed riffing and great vintage thrash vocals from Robert Gonnella.

The band sounds tight and focused and the riffs are top class. Judas and Turf War continue the thrashing before Destroy the State introduces a more mid paced dynamic and alternates between fast riffs and some mid paced chug.
The band sound pretty great on Breaking the Silence. The songs are of a consistently high quality, this is probably Robert Gonnella's best vocal performance yet and the riffs are pretty fucking great. It also helps that the band has a young and hungry sounding rhythm section. The drumming especially adds a fair bit to the songs. The only misstep the band make is the album closer I Love Cola with a punk sound and Tankard like silliness.

Where the band really succeeds is in crafting an album that is unabashedly old school in its songwriting and production but still retain enough modern touches and variety in riffs and structure to keep things interesting. Breaking the Silence will not redefine the thrash genre and there's nothing new on this album but it's still a kickass return to form and Assassin sound fresh and hungry. Well worth checking out for fans of the genre.

Agnostic Front - My Life, My Way

Agnostic Front – My Life My Way

Year of Release – 2011
Label – Nuclear Blast

Seminal is a word that's thrown around quite frequently to describe Agnostic Front and it's a word that defines this band. Pretty much the founders of the New York hardcore scene, AF started as a punk hardcore band that slowly morphed into a crossover band mixing thrash with their punk hardcore roots. I could go on about the classic albums the band has released in their 30 odd years of existence but the fact is, the band is still current and they've never been ones for resting on their laurels.

My Life, My Way the band's 10th full length album and third for Nuclear Blast continues along the way set by Warriors in 2007 except that the songs are a lot better here. Right from album opener City Streets, you know AF mean business with their metalized hardcore. The guitars are razor sharp, Roger Miret's back to his trademark pissed off angry singing and the gang vocals are spot on. Its the riffs and the choruses that make memorable hardcore and in the case of My Life, My Way the band is spot on. Heavy, razor sharp riffing, the occasional punk groove, superbly timed breakdowns and just about the catchiest choruses the band has written in a long while.

Stand out tracks include Us Against the World which hearkens back to the band's crossover days, the title song with its melodic punk riff and superb gang vocals, A Mi Manera which is vintage hardcore with Miret once again being spot on with his vocals and the awesome Until the Day I Die which is just classic chest thumping hardcore. It's a bit redundant talking about high points on this album though cause every song works and most importantly each song has enough about it to remain distinct. By the time the album's done, 3-4 choruses will be stuck in your head and the album it self will be on repeat for a while.

Agnostic Front are back to being pretty fucking awesome and showing the pretenders how it's done. Their best album for Nuclear Blast by a long long way and a definite highlight in the band's impressive discography.