Grim Observations (2/26/20)

The first release I have for you today is Saarkoth’s Follow The Cult. It’s a surprise release and something of a single. A seventeen minute long single, mind you. The piece comes in with the folky edge that you may expect from traditional black metal, but there’s a bit of an Arabic twist to the composition at this point. That fades, letting loose with a barrage of drums, expectable tremolo riffs and fierce scowls. That eventually rolls into something of a groove/death mixture, which is not something I’ve heard from the artist before. The piece continues to embody a hint of prog and a few more structural changes before rolling right back into throwdown territory. It finishes with a hint of background synth and somber acoustics. I don’t think fans of the band nor the style will be upset with this one and it shows a sign of good things to come from the project. I especially like the creeping modernizations present in the piece, because it shows the band evolving from the ’96 time warp that a lot of black metal acts still find themselves trapped in.

The next record on the list is from an industrial act called Interlocutor (but they have an irritating spelling format that dictates a colon after every letter in the moniker and that irks me just a little.) The EP here is titled Preemptive Institutional Postmortem. Oddly enough, the band wasn’t formed in some advanced future city like Neo Arcadia. Rather, the project is from Brian Carrington who calls Oklahoma his home. I’ll bet that’s a good place to hide out if the shit goes down. I can’t see many people trying to smash down barricades in order to get over there. In any case, this taste of the future reminds me a little of Killing Joke, KMFDM and early Aborym in some cases. The EP is peppered with synthwave and voice clips, featuring a harsh vocal throughout the handle the narration. This is handled well on the album’s title track and “Ant(i)Deluv1an” but “Malefactor” seems to stumble a bit from this formula, despite having a strong chorus and potent bridge section. I’d say it’s just slow to start, but picks up in the end. I also don’t like that such a chorus heavy song went into atmosphere right after the bridge and didn’t reiterate the chorus. That’s weird to me. There should have been one more choral reiteration after the bridge and then it could be thrown to atmosphere. “Axiom” is a little different, featuring a deeper vocal style almost like early Fear Factory. Funny I should mention that, as there are also some clean vocals on it – showing that the man can sing a lot better than I can. This one would have to be my favorite on the disc so far and I’d consider the EP relatively strong, other than the fact that I’d love to hear some of these re-recorded later with maybe a full band or higher production value. “Axiom” just doesn’t hit as hard in some areas as it should and you need a full bass for that effect. “Renunciation” goes full on death metal, but it does after some whispers and cold, spooky synths. I know “black metal” is listed, but I’m hearing more groove/death than black and that’s fine, because a lot of black metal sounds redundant these days and this EP doesn’t. So there’s that. All in all, it’s a great little project and I hope there will be more of it.

The Grim Tower gets a variety of music and I appreciate all of the different kinds of artists that approach me for a review. I’m definitely not the best reviewer out there, but I’ve always had something to say about media, so you’ll definitely get at least a few words about your releases and that’s more than some people will give you on social media, that’s for sure. Rusty Eye sent me this very interesting EP release called Rust N’ Roll All Over Again. At first, I thought I was hearing a bit of metal infused punk with a female vocalist, but then the style of music changed altogether to allow for prog and death metal. A male vocalist comes into the mix on the second cut “Return Of The Scarecrow” which… hey, hold on a second – the doll’s face on the cover has green eyes and red hair, just like mine. I dunno about you folks, but that’s a hell of a coincidence. Getting back to the release, I love the mixture of prog and death I’m hearing here which wasn’t even something I expected judging from the first song on the album, “Inside Her Rings Of Smoke.” The punk feeling comes back with “Dead Once Again” as “Certain Death” brings a little bit of a Venom flavor to it. That is until you get to the bridge section, which comes off like a completely different kind of song entirely. It’s hard to imagine this melodic soft rock section being a part of the same song, but it works. The disc ends out with a powerful instrumental called “Phantasm” and then features a bonus drum solo. It’s not bad really and I hope the band will release more albums here in the US.

Sometimes I even get music from other dimensions, which is the case with this extraterrestrial black metal project called Idolos. The name of the disc is Ahi Cab and features four tracks considered to be a message. Fans of traditional, down in the crypts black metal will enjoy this, though I am pleased to hear a strong presence as far as riffs are concerned, which includes a couple of legitimate guitar solos. In some spots there are touches of atmosphere, like with “The Summoners.” This breaks away from the traditionalism in this genre that I find myself always bitching about and ultimately results in a much stronger release overall. “The Maiden and The Tree” ends the record on a somber note, taking us out of black metal territory almost entirely, as it closes on the same equally depressing nodes. Not quite the ending I expected, but certainly not bad either. Though it is a bit tough to hear the vocal utterances on this one, I definitely think there are people who will find something in it. Hopefully these interdimensional beings will return for another message in the future.

Now that the majority of my submissions are done, it’s time for me to roll through the dozens of promos I’ve received and share some of my observations there. Several of these will be posted separately, especially if I have a lot to say about them.

Sicarius arrives first with God Of Dead Roots, a record that I feel encapsulates the sound and feel of modern black metal, while utilizing proper grooves and some death metal elements to keep me from becoming too bored. The record is absolutely ferocious from beginning to end and there’s enough bells and whistles here to keep attention throughout. Of course, I especially loved the cover slapped on at the end of the disc, which I believe is a Venom track, judging by the nature of the riffing. It’s actually my favorite cut on the disc, which probably doesn’t bode well for my opinion on the band alone. God Of Dead Roots is a strong album, but you have to take it as a whole because nothing really sticks out. It’s just one long bout of black and death metal that while good, was not amazing.

That’s all I have for this month, check back again around the middle of March for another round of observations. If I haven’t gotten to you yet, I apologize. It is coming, I just have so many discs to cover. I am only one person and I work full-time at a job that requires heavy labor. Also, my inbox is always stuffed, so there is a chance I might have missed your submission, but I try to get to as many as I can. Thanks for your support.

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