THE GRIM TOWER REVIEWS APRIL SHORTLIST

Yes, I know that we normally feature twenty-five albums in our shortlists, but you folks literally have no idea as to what I just went through today at the day job and I’m completely worn out. I’m glad I got through with the last five to be honest! At any rate, we’ve got a large variety of releases here and some are major hits, while others are a completely different story. But as you can see, I was enthralled with Malthusian, Beastmilk and music from a weird catgirl who uses a series of symbols for her (admittedly) difficult to find electronic work. We also have Savage Machine, who may prove to be heavy metal heavyweights in the future. Of course, there are others.

In other news, I often find it funny when a person must take time out of their day to simply write a negative comment on a review. I found a recent comment just today on a review we wrote ages ago, and I admittedly missed the boat on that one. But we’ve since picked up the pace and hopefully deliver better reviews now. I should hope, anyway.

malthusian2015

Malthusian – Below The Hengiform (2015 Spotlight) – When my ears first gandered upon the exquisitely grim soundscapes of Below The Hengiform, I immediately thought that bunch of equally grim dudes would be producing this stuff. Boy was I ever right! When I took a peek at the band’s photo, I did indeed see three rather morose looking young fellows and that seems to be one of the main reasons why this recording sounds like a brutal mix of black and death metal landscapes, slathered with doom elements and surprisingly a lot of texture. I can almost make a Portal or Imperial Triumphant reference here, but these guys manage to balance the atmosphere out with disturbingly bleak vocal rasps and sometimes even the shrieking of what can only be described as someone being torn apart. There’s not so much here in the way of guitar theatrics or wild solo feats. No my friend, this is dreadfully evil shit that sounds like it was written by three damned souls transitioning from purgatory and heading right into the wretched abyss. If there was ever a soundtrack to suffering, Beyond The Hengiform is most definitely it. There aren’t an awful lot of songs on this EP release, but I feel that there’s more than enough offered here to establish a notable presence. Whatever Malthusian decides to release next, I will be all over it. This is a band well worth keeping your eye on. I can already foretell great things.

(3 Tracks, 25:00)

10/10

womitangel2015Womit Angel – Maggotmouth (2015) – These black metal punks manage to display both genres relatively well regardless of the seven minute playing time for the release. You basically get your tremolo melodies, a harsh raspy vocal, blast beats and a guy that growls every so often. As I said, the band also goes into hard punk territory. “Children Of Moon 2:53” crunches a little more and I like it over the other two tracks featured here. It also shows a little bit of atmosphere in the melody, which is something I wouldn’t have expected from these guys. They also try to pull off a solo in the same cut, which is reason enough for me to believe they’re really working to be something great and possibly memorable.

(3 Tracks, 7:00)

7/10

inzekt2015In Zekt – Industrial Scale Murder (2015) – These Norwegian industrial djenters are trying so hard to make djent metal relevant and it’s all honest a good enough performance to make it considerable. Party because of Peter Vindel’s vocals, which definitely seem to take from Ministry and feature that angry punk vibe. I really wish he hadn’t played so many Meshuggah riffs, but Kjettil Ottersen’s keyboard work does a great job in making me forget all about the djent side of the band. As the record continues, it adopts an industrial atmosphere which fills me heavily with promise. The band transcends metal completely and moves into the realms of soundscape, where they pick back up with another strong metal cut towards the end. But despite the heaviness of that cut, there are still some really stellar electronics in the work, which show me once again that In Zekt is a band full of fucking potential. I may have gone over, but I don’t care. This is talent and it needs to be recognized. If you can make me forget about the fact that the majority of your riffs are djent riffs, then you’ve done something right. I’d even say that these guys are taking that Meshuggah style into a realm where Meshuggah hasn’t even been yet. I heavily applaud them.

(1 Track, 20:15)

8/10

dethfox2015Dethfox – Natural Media Teleforce (2015) – More to Taina’s side of things (and I need to inform her when I get the punk records, as she’s better with that genre than I am) it’s needless to say that I can’t really get into the rough approach of Dethfox. The frontman sounds like an angry old man that’s yelling while he’s eating his oatmeal, while the rest of the disc just kind of sounds like pretty bland punk. Punk fronted by your grandpa, don’t forget about that part. Once again, it’s not my thing and I surely don’t recommend it, but the fact that Grandpa jumped on vocals does elicit some laughter from me. Feel free to sling oatmeal at me for the contents of this review. I’ll be sure to wear a bib.

(5 Tracks, 8:00)

3/10

graveyardaftergraveyard2015Graveyard After Graveyard – Hellhound On My Trail (2015) When a bunch of angry men get together to make grimy death metal, Graveyard After Graveyard is definitely the result. It delivers too, with “Out To Feed 3:22” delivering fiendishly catchy riffs and vocal emanations right out of the gate, reminding me an awful lot of Bloodbath, Grave, Revolting or early The Crowned. I especially like the frontman’s vocal approach, which sounds positively bloodcurdling and just the sort of thing I want to hear coupled with my death metal mayhem. Make no mistake, there’s definitely something here to take note of and I’d definitely like to hear it further expand into a full length record. This is the kind of death metal that employs those eerie, nasty riff melodies and features a drummer who seems to know what the hell he’s doing behind the kit, instead of pounding the living hell out of it like a lot of other death metal drummers. Whether they’re utilizing a slow kill (Learn To Burn 4:05) or a quick slaughter (Screams In The Night 2:06) they definitely manage to get the bloody point across. There’s a little outro on here called “Feeding Of The Hellhounds 1:36” which seems an awful fucking waste, but I’m not going to knock points off the record for it. As a whole, this is the kind of death metal that I like hearing and I really want to hear more of it.

(6 Tracks, 18:00)

8/10

SavageMacgine2015Savage Machine – Through The Iron Forest (2015) – This Denmark heavy metal quartet (originally known as Momentum) have released their first EP under the name of Savage Machine. The disc sounds like a progressive and melodic melding that comes with a vocal style reminiscent of Blind Guardian’s Hansi Kursch in the low tones and Rob Halford in the high wails, among others. The listener will immediately notice the impeccable guitar work of Jacob Bruun and Simon Poulsen, as these two have a noticeable chemistry which seems to comprise most of this disc. Riffs should always be one of the most important things in heavy metal and they certainly are here. One of the disc’s major standouts is the hair metal inspired “The Easy Way Out 5:29” which manages to pump a powerful chorus into the mix, making for one of the strongest efforts on this recording. Even though “Prisoners of War 5:31” is the single, the aforementioned really should have been. Not that “Prisoners” is a bad song; it’s just that it didn’t hit me as hard. There are still some things that need to be ironed out here, but it’s definitely a standout heavy metal EP from a band that will hopefully ascend to greater heights in the future. Fans of classic metal are certainly urged to hear it as soon as possible.

(6 Tracks, 27:00)

8.5/10

terveetkadet2015Terveet Kadet – Lapin Helvetti (2015) – These four Finns have mixed together doom, punk and thrash to make a record that just sounds completely insane all of the way thorough. You’ll even hear some death metal influences in here as well, which definitely make for an even more explosive performance. Terveet Kadet doesn’t care what they sound like and probably don’t care if you like them either. So they probably won’t even care all that much about this review! But basically what you get is eighteen tracks of angst spread out into twenty minutes, with a thundering doom intro and a weird atmospheric outro. But’s that’s just the kind of thing we can expect from Finns, who just like the Japanese; have no problem mixing so many different sounds together and have a great time doing it. I think I just heard a tremolo riff in here somewhere, or maybe that’s just darkened punk. It’s really tough to tell, which means that you’ll have to give it a lot of listens so that you can discern the meaning of this beast for yourself. All the lyrics are in Finnish, but the performance is so interesting that you won’t really care. Another great Finnish album from another great Finnish band. Listen up rest of the world; as these guys are kicking our asses in music. We’d better kick it up a notch.

(18 Tracks, 20:00)

7/10

unrest2015Unrest – Grindcore (2015) – I do believe I’m at a stalemate here. With an album called Grindcore, a symbol of the eye of providence thrown into a chaostar and it all having been done by a bunch of young and quite harmless looking fellows, I’m not really sure what to say about this performance from a visual perspective. But from an audio perspective, I’m hearing a rowdy approach to punk with heavier elements that I guess is supposed to be grindcore? The guys certainly sound full of vim and vigor, backed with a rigorous approach to drumming and a speedy attack that seems to pervade through every song. There are moments where slight structure changes are uttered, giving the release some volume, but it doesn’t sound all that noteworthy to me as of yet. Unrest hit hard and will knock your teeth out on the ground, which is what people interested in this record will be looking to hear from it. There are signs that the band can be much more in the future, but I think the album’s moniker pretty much describes it perfectly.

(12 Tracks, 26:00)

6/10

Riley Hawk 2015Various Artists – Riley Hawk: Northwest Blowout EP (2015) – This is another one of those Scion EP’s, which features a four band split this time, instead of just one. Kadavar comes in with proggy hard rock and just gets even trippier as the record continues. But these guys know their prog, so I’d expect it from them. LOOM are next, with a firm helping of doom that also goes into a slightly trippier atmosphere. But unlike the predecessor, it manages to stick with the doom. The Black Angels follow up with a melancholic, yet airy approach which almost feels glassy. It’s like the band are communicating from another realm and there’s a mirror reflecting the sound back in a very fuzzy sort of way. It’s tough to explain, but probably sounds better when you’re high, like the rest of this album. I guess Scion wants to be a car company for stoners? Fine with me. Hot Lunch ends this little jamboree with a track that sounds like it was ripped right out of the seventies. The band even sounds like they were stoned while playing the song (listen to that weird half-solo thing and you’ll see what I’m talking about) so you can kind of figure as to what kind of audience Scion were looking for when they released this thing. Good music to get stoned to and a definite throwback to more relaxed mindsets.

(4 Tracks, 16:00)

7/10

Znafeirff 2015Znafelriff- Ruin (2015) – Freely released on the band’s Bandcamp page, Znafelriff is a German black metal act with dark metal elements, which the band is dubbing “anthracite metal.” Whatever in the hell that is. Oh, it’s a hard black coal. So as I listen to Ruin, I will liken it to a lump of hard black coal. Truth be told, that’s actually a good descriptor for the album, which fills with frantic blasts, harsh German vocal utterances, some spoken word sections with atmosphere and an overall sense of darkness. It sounds very kvlt in that aspect, but doesn’t have the kind of production value that sounds like it was made in someone’s shed. It’s actually a really stellar product and showcases a black metal act that I feel people will remember. The “dark metal” bits serve as a good backbone to hold up the rest of the performance and give it a sort of cryptic atmosphere that help the record not to become as boring as it literally could have been. Blasts are a staple for the genre, but this kind of balancing act separates Znafelriff from the rest of the pack.

(5 Tracks, 21:00)

8/10

† †▲† † 2015† †▲† † – ((I)) (2015) – Crafted by a rather gifted teen girl, this electronic EP (a supplement to the artist’s Ebola// album) takes on a much different approach and observes an industrial atmosphere that I’m sure the folks over there at Malignant would take quick notice of. The rustic atmosphere that pervades throughout this spacey soundscape quickly emanates into a sort of digital explosion, which almost sounds as if the listener is being sucked into a giant ethereal vacuum of some sort. It has been a while since we’ve reviewed anything like this (perhaps I have to email Jason and let him know that we’re not dead, again) and it feels like a fresh of fresh air to get something that feels so dark, phantasmal and otherworldly. It’s hard to believe that the girl who made it doesn’t consider it all that amazing. It’s on par with the greats of the genre. The EP is freely available on the band’s Bandcamp page, along with the previous Ebola// work which I highly recommend. I think she’s a catgirl too, but even Faris couldn’t have put out something like this. There’s no doubt in my mind that she’s a disturbed little kitty, but that seems to have resulted in some rather intriguing music. Get your hands on this, if you’ve got to have traditional industrial.

(1 Track, 19:54)

9/10

Blame KadisnkyBlame Kadinsky – Pink Noise Motel (2015) – Sometimes I start a record and sigh, which just happens to be the case with metalcore act, Blame Kadinsky. I’m sorry to say folks, but bands like these are almost the bane of my existence and this record especially sounds like one of Dillinger Escape Plan’s old haunts. There’s a bunch of little techy things here and there, but for the most part the record seems to follow a very familiar metalcore style with a screaming frontman and well, you can pretty much map it out from beginning to end. I’m sure that there’s an audience for this, but it’s not me and I’m sure that it’s not the majority of readers here at the Tower. Though we get approaches like this, I would rather hunt down something that dares to be different and takes this style of metal up a notch. I never cared for bands like this when they first appeared during the birth of metalcore and I still don’t seem to care much for them. It’s pretty basic, run of the mill stuff and I don’t recommend it. I’m not going to knock what they’re doing, but it’s certainly not my cup of tea.

(6 Tracks, 19:00)

5/10

Catalepsy2015Catalepsy – Demos (2015) – Catalepsy is a female fronted thrash act from the late eighties and these are their demos. Fortunately for the listener, these are actually quite strong. The ’87 demo features a warm production, but the riffs are still audible and show a band with plenty of potential. The frontwoman actually delivered the goods too. Her ferocious howls definitely had a bite and she felt menacing. For the time, it was unheard of for females to thrash like this, but Catalepsy proves that they do just as great a job behind the microphone as any male counterpart. The record was fast, heavy and full of intriguing melody lines. It’s still rough around the edges, but for what it offered, it’s not too shabby. Now the next demo was made in ’88 and it’s a little bit different… Not to say that it’s bad, but much of the thrashing has been slowed down to utilize more of a classic heavy metal feeling. The production was much better, but there was an obvious ’80s pop influence to these tunes, mostly cemented with the ending cover of Janis Joplin’s “Piece Of My Heart 3:55” which ultimately assured the listener that Catalepsy was trying very hard to go for a more popular and accessible sound. This could have been their downfall however, but at least they went out with a bang. I definitely prefer the ’87 demo to this later effort, but both are relatively strong records and worth listens in their own right. There’s no telling as to what Catalepsy would become in later years, but these tracks definitely showed that they had what it took to be something truly noteworthy.

(7 Tracks, 24:00)

7/10

Barishi - Howl (2015)Barishi – Endless – Howl EP (2015) – Howl definitely shows a different side of Barishi, at least vocally. I don’t remember these guys being quite so heavy even though it’s arguably been a long time since I’ve heard the band’s self-titled debut. Musically, the band really has not changed so much as being a rather melodic progressive act, but the vocals have definitely sharpened to a razor-blade like stature, making these rather ethereal pieces sound a little more frightening than normal. I’m almost reminded of the original “happy black metal” sound of Alcest, before they jumped off the metal ship and drowned in the ocean. With the last track on this fearsome thing, “Snakeboat 5:42” an unexpected guttural growl launches into a series of blast beats, which changes the whole spectrum of the band, to something much differently than what I remember. I’m not upset by it however; as it offers a much different feel to the band and shows that they are capable of more extreme styles of music. I’d like to see how this balances out with their lighter material on the next effort, and I’ve got a good feeling that that indeed is what will happen. But time will tell…

(4 Tracks, 19:00)

8/10

thehauntingpresence2015The Haunting Presence – The Haunting Presence (2015) – One extremely dark individual is responsible for the madness of speed, black metal and filth that you’ll hear dripping from this foul emanation and I’m sure that you’ll love it from the first listen… that is, if you enjoy truly grim things. The frontman utilizes what very well might be a filtered effect to his vocals, or he’s possessed of an inhuman fiend. I’m not real sure, but the solos and blasts that emanate from this thing certainly go well together with such a vocal approach, which ultimately comes in fast and sounds like the muttering of one or many demons. Though it is short, the album cover definitely seems to represent the rather morbid and unholy atmosphere that comprises this release. While I’m hoping for more texture, I definitely think that The Haunting Presence has something worthwhile to offer at this point.

(6 Tracks, 17:00)

7/10

beastmilk2015Beastmilk – Use Your Deluge (2015) – These punky dark wavers are a little bit too obsessed with milk, I think. But that’s alright with me, because they’ve certainly made my day with this new EP release. Built with a black metal friendly lyrics structure and featuring several former members of some rather well known black metal acts, Use Your Deluge might just be the kind of gateway album to turn kvltists towards the still rather dark and unfriendly world of darkwave. “Children Of The Atom Bomb 3:02” definitely stuck with me after the first listen, as “Forever Animal 3:09” brought in an almost Ulver like approach. The disc ended out with “Red Majesty 4:28” which was absolutely beautiful in a rather melancholic and frightful fashion. It’s starting to seem that the more I hear from these guys, the more I’m apt for a glass of cold Beastmilk.

(4 Tracks, 13:00)

9/10

beastmilkwhitestains2015Beastmilk – White Stains On Black Wax (2015) – The production on this little disc seems a little rougher than the others, so I’m thinking that it could be the band’s early material. But that’s fine, as it’s still rather strong as opener “The Wind Blows Through Their Skulls 2:23” demonstrates. “Blood Under The Mill 2:37” actually sounds like a trippy sort of incantation in its grindhouse meets Aleister Crowley atmosphere. The band’s namesake track is sadly a bunch of voice clips. Unfortunate, but the two tracks that are offered here are a good sign of what was to later come from the act.

      (3 Tracks, 6:00)

7/10

beyonddishonor2015Beyond Dishonor – Generations (2015) – Beyond Dishonor is a djentcore band, which isn’t really my thing even though I respect what they do. The frontman seems to hit as hard as any vocalist in the scene, even jumping into a few gutturals in places. Though the record itself definitely comes across as a fist to the face, I’m not really hearing a lot of originality here and I don’t know if this is going to be enough for these guys to break out. Instead of just dogging them like some reviewers might, I feel that the band needs to know that the listener needs something more than what other bands are offering right now. If they want to continue this djent tinged flavor of the week style, then that is fine. But I feel there needs to be more meat to the overall package. You see, I’m listening to the musical side of things and I am hearing very little that doesn’t sound similar to the song that came before. There are slight sections of melody, but once again; I feel that the band needs to expand a little more and start welcoming in other, unconventional ideas. It’s a run of the mill disc and offers little in the way of intrigue.

(6 Tracks, 21:00)

5/10

predatorylight2015Predatory Light – MMXIV EP (2015) – This four-piece atmospheric blackened doom act certainly offer some memorable moments here, even if it’s bit tough to hear the vocals in the recording. The guitars literally soar into otherworldly realms, sometimes throwing in a tremolo or two and the drummer certainly hasn’t forgotten how to blast. They manage to switch things up however, by throwing in some welcome doom dirges and some guttural gravel as well. There’s an old school influence to be found in “Spiritual Flesh 10:31” as well as some proggy acoustics and these things help to break up the atmosphere a little a welcome in a slightly harsher atmosphere towards the end of the track. Predatory Light have an awful lot of promise, but I just wish I could hear the vocals a little better. Everything else seems to sound perfect though, I just don’t know what happened and why the mic is so low in the mix. I would’ve definitely turned that up a little. Even so, from a musical standpoint there’s still enough here to wet your palette and I’m ultimately sure that you’ll be back after your first listen. They’re a good atmospheric act and I hope that we’ll hear more from them in the future. MMXIV is quite promising, so what’s next on the horizon?

(2 Tracks, 17:00)

7/10

songoftheageofrage2015Song Of The Age Of Rage – Brand New Code (2014 Bonsai Bonus) – I’m not quite sure where this Japanese rapcore album came from, but I’ll definitely say that it’s not something I’ll forget. As far as the music is concerned, it’s basically down-tuned guitars with a little bit of punk and hardcore influence as well as a lot of Engrish. The guys can rap well when the lyrics are in Japanese, but I even found myself laughing a little on “Good-Bye My Hater 2:51” due to sheer amounts of Engrish in employ here. Oddly enough, they do manage to keep up a rather strong musical front, but the record shows that they’re clearly in need of evolution and perhaps they’ll see it soon. There are a lot of better Japanese rapcore acts out there like ManWithAMission and their intriguing idea to turn Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” into a Japanese rapcore track. (You’ve got to hear it to believe it.)

(8 Tracks, 22:00)

5/10

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