So I managed to get this one out on time folks. Miracles do happen after all. Take notice of our new name and a certain new style of doing reviews. I’m not sure that I’m going to explain every single song on a record anymore unless it really calls for it, so these will be a bit shorter and get to the point. My focus is mainly to (A) describe what you will hear and (B) what I think of it. Secondly, I haven’t published my scoring system until now, even though this has been my system since The Grim Tower began as a small blog. I’m working on new interviews as we speak and my other writers (Spynal and CentralScrutinzer) also have some very awesome things to deliver shortly. I’ll also be doing some more articles and as promised, reviews for games. There’s a few I want to highlight. And if you think I’m a nutcase after reading my posted bio, then I guess that I can be the first nutcase reviewer out there! First time for everything, right?
Unaussprechlichen Kulten – Baphomet Pan Shub-Niggurath (2014) – This Lovecraftian obsessed Chilean death metal act actually shows quite a bit of promise on their third full-length, which roars like the bellowing of the great underwater deity of which this band’s essence is culled from. These guys offer up two massive tracks (16:00 and 13:34 respectively) which seem to be comprised of multiple songs (perhaps that’s due to the format of the release) that feature ravenous guitar riffs, aggravated drumming and excessively thick gravel on the vocal end of things. The frontman really knows how to command an act, and the hints of prog melodies that appear within the foggy soundscape of this thing are well worth remembering. It’s a long affair, but it certainly delivers enough ear candy to make me not cast it out in the background somewhere, which is truly refreshing. It has the sense of Aevangelist or Portal, but with a hell of a lot more death metal elements to behold. On the second track, there’s a bit more fright in the riffs making for an even darker, yet machine gun pummeling presence that simply cannot be denied. I can’t believe I’ve never heard these guys before, as they’re much better than a lot of the other atmospheric death metal acts that I’ve come across. Lovecraft might not have been pleased (he was in all honesty, a very weird and odd character) but I’m quite sure that the denizens who communicated their thoughts to him from outside the earth and beneath its oceans would be quite pleased with this manner of furious worship.
Godstopper – Children Are Our Future (2014) – Godstopper are a weird little four-piece experimental noise rock band from Toronto and they certainly are different. There’s a little bit of doom, a little bit of drone and a little bit of Queens Of The Stone Age and Primus stuffed into all this mess, but it still comes off heavily melodic and quite listenable. I also have to give them nods for their interesting in classic arcade machines, such as the King Of Fighters 2K and X-Men Vs. Street Fighter cabinets incorporated in the background. Bass player Miranda seems to be checking to see if she’s got enough money to play the X-Men machine. Most of these games I can now emulate on my phone or computer, but it’s still pretty awesome to see the original. That brought back some nostalgia. At any rate, Godstopper certainly have something here in the fact that it stands out as both familiar yet vaguely different in performance. This is a band that shouldn’t work due to the over-the-top amount of experimentation, but the vocal package seems to make the whole thing worthwhile. Would this have worked with harsh vocals? I don’t really think so, because the harmonies really help to bring this into a more mainstream variety, something that took us by surprise when bands like Kyuss and Floor and Queens Of The Stone Age came out with really odd and energetic approaches to what could be stripped down as good old rock and roll. It’s short, but you can grab it from their Bandcamp page. It’s a Name Your Own Price disc.
Unscarred – Fake Democracy (2014) – Sometimes you just got to have a little thrash in your life, and that’s just what this amazing female-fronted French act delivers. Iranian vocalist Nelly really delivers some sharp hitting thrash vocal aesthetics which show both punch and melody at the same time. Her harsh vocals aren’t quite up to par with Holy Moses, but she still manages to procure a strong presence within the band, while Boris and Niko manage to deliver up solid guitar work with a few sections of prog and lots of groove riffs. Sometimes the whole thing sounds like a more calculated thrash, a style that doesn’t quite contain as much speed as other acts, yet makes up for it with song structure. Of the five tracks offered here, the style is quite the same yet recognizes Unscarred as a band that knows who they want to sound like. Perhaps Nelly goes a bit overboard in some sections, but the atmosphere should appeal to fans of modern thrash and modern metal quite a bit. I don’t think there’s much here for the classic thrash fan though, as these guys are clearly schooled in the school of retro thrash, rather than traditional. Unscarred is a catchy act with enough muscularity in their song structures to draw the attention of any prospective labels. Definitely worth checking out. Fake Democracy shows a band that’s just about to blossom into much greater things.
Hopeless Youth – Disgust (2014) – These Canadian trash rockers seem to mix definite spatters of punk along with some thicker, almost post metal riffs. It has a sense of angry metallic groove that sees the angst at its most explosive on “Ghost 2:33.” Come to think of it, there’s an awful lot of punk on this album. It wouldn’t be too out of context to call it a sort of punk metal, since the atmosphere of early punk is here, just filtered through a much heavier and more abrasive lens. If anything can be felt on this record, it would have to be the battering drums, scathing vocal lines and thunderously thick riffs. These guys want to do nothing more than to create a sort of ungodly racket that should appeal to fans of screamo, punk and metalcore. Everyone else though, will probably wind up running for the nearest pew, in the hope that whatever demons they’ve just become infested with from listening to this music, will surely be lifted from them via a few prayers and “Hail Mary’s.” If you’re looking to upset mild mannered citizens, then be sure to blast this as loud as humanly possible.
Fallen Order – The Age Of Kings (2014) – These New Zealanders remind me of a heavy metal act that somehow or another acquired a man who sounds just like acclaimed ex-Iced Earth frontman, Matthew Barlow when he was a bit younger. But that’s not all, as they certainly take from John Schaeffer’s classic gallop heavy riff style. “Beyond Death 5:42” actually sounds like Iced Earth could have written it, and being a ridiculous fan of Iced Earth; these guys caught my attention immediately. I’m almost curious if they began as an Iced Earth cover band. There’s not a damn thing wrong with this though, as they do manage to throw a lot of classic heavy metal elements into the mix, which manages to offer a less thrashy approach to the music and more of an all-around throwback style. Trust me, this is extremely memorable and I think that fans of Iced Earth, Iron Maiden and several other classic era heavy metal acts will certainly embrace it. If these guys are some kind of Iced Earth knock-off, then they’re the best fucking one I’ve ever heard, bar none. I’m eagerly anticipating the band’s next album.
Strafk – Phaseshifting (2014) – The debut release by this Russian experimental black metal duo certainly features a lot of phase shifting, so the title certainly fits. Quite simply, this is black metal taken to an odd and unexpected place. You really can’t even call it black metal and get away with it. But whatever sort of coarse and nihilistic sound they’ve created here, it’s certainly apparent within this release that you’re not going to hear anything as bombastically odd for quite some time. There’s bits of Ulver and Dodheimsgard littered about this madness, as it shifts from “Phase I (Void)stare 5:36” all of the way to its final phase in the almost mantric “Phase IV The New Embodiment 4:41.” Black metal tremolos certainly play a role here, but they’re slowed down and only provide an atmosphere to the light drumming and horde of effects utilized on the release. The vocals consist of very light, almost whispered scowls, which seem to work well with the atmosphere contained on the album. Sometimes it even sounds like you’re floating through space, while decked in corpse paint. This debut brings me a band that shows their influences heavily, but still manages to throw all these influences into a foggy little cauldron by which to boil and unleash the very spirit of the universe itself. I’ve never heard anything like it, so I recommend that you check it out.
Infest – Cold Blood War (2014) – The fourth release from these Serbian death/thrashers certainly shows that they haven’t weathered over the years, bringing about an approach that is certainly meaty with the bare bones of death and thrash metal certainly intact as is displayed on album opener “Destroyer Of Their Throne 3:12”. Throughout the disc, the band display this same amount of vicious vivacity as they unleash a sound that comes off as militaristic and excessively brutal as can be felt from a death metal release. Cold Blood War really does feel like the epitome of one big fucking war, with guitar theatrics thrown in just to serve as a more melodic take on the slaughter. When I describe this record, I can only think of carnage, mayhem and downright bravado. Infest make the sort of muscular death/thrash that never gets old and will sit with most old heads as a definite winner. If you grew up with eighties thrash at its heaviest and nineties death metal at its darkest, then Cold Blood War is an album that you’ve been waiting to get your grimy little hands on. There are no ballads, acoustic interludes or clean vocals to be found within this soundtrack to man killing man, and it’s definitely the kind of thing you want to play to get pumped up while shooting foes in the newest FPS, or my preference – the classic FPS titles like Doom, Blood or Painkiller perhaps. But if you really want to play a game that will get your blood pumping along with this, then anything in the Serious Sam series certainly fits the bill. A little bit of this Serbian death/thrash in your speakers coupled with hordes of enemies so vast that the fucking CPU can barely process them all, and you’ve got the perfect evening ahead of you. The only thing that would make that night any better would be some really fucking spicy food. Bring on the jalapenos and hot sauce loaded enchiladas… because it’s going to be a long fucking night.
Run With The Hunted – The Sieve And The Sand (2014)- This Arizona act makes what’s called “emotional hardcore” and I can certainly tell it. This reminds me of Every Time I Die and early Dillinger Escape Plan, and I can say that it’s definitely not my kind of thing. I never really got into the scene to tell you the truth, even though it sounds like a mix of punk thrash and emo, with maybe some hardcore (I’ve still yet to hear that New York hardcore influence) influences lumped in there somewhere. Perhaps it’s the band’s frontman who gets on my nerves, I just don’t think there’s enough a masculine sound here, it sounds like an angry youth hollering about things related to his life in a symbolic construct. They have some interesting ideas from time to time, but the vocals are so abrasive Jr. that I can’t really get into it. I guess this is a bit more human and less demonic than death or black metal vocals, but it just reminds me why I don’t use those kinds of vocals myself – I hate the sound of my own voice to begin with, so I like to mask it in those other styles. Once was really enough of this for me, so I don’t think I can do with another listen. But if it sounds like something you would like, then pick it up from the band’s bandcamp page. Well, to be honest it only let me share the music. So I can’t actually download or pay for it from the band’s bandcamp page. I don’t know what’s going on there, but if this wets your palette, I’m sure that you’ll be more than apt to look into it.
Krieg/Ramlord – 7″ (2014) – This split comes from two American metal acts and the first one is South Jersey’s Kreig who has been kicking out black metal releases since the early nineties. They offer up two tracks here, the first of which is called “Mocking Dead Empires 2:22” a sprawling mix of black metal and punk, much as one might expect. In all honesty, it’s just punk riffs and harsh scowls with the occasional drum barrage. But it works. “Worthless Nothing 2:36” continues the same approach, but add more black metal to the mix, making for something much darker and far more evil in some instances than the first track. A bit of gravel also comes into the mix, adding some death metal influences just for fun, as well as some electronics plopped in at the end. New Hampshire’s Ramlord come next with their traditional approach to doom and perhaps death metal? “Grey Sky Prison 5:08″ really sounds quite basic, yet it’s certainly quite rowdy and a little bit rude and crude too. Can we also say that these guys probably have bad attitudes? Because it certainly sounds like it. The next song they perform here is the blink and you’ll miss it, ” From Absolution 1:08″ which doesn’t really add much to the formula. I mean, it’s alright but I don’t think I’d go out of my way to hear this. Hell, I can probably make this myself. No offense to these guys, but if just doesn’t really work for me.
All in all, it’s a decent little split with the Krieg side of things being a little stronger. Perhaps their next split with Wolvhammer will prove a little stronger. As for whatever in the fuck Ramlord are doing here, I’d certainly like to know as I’m a bit lost and feel as though I’m wading about in a junkyard of discarded sounds.
Khaos – After The Silence (2014 Single) – Khaos is a Swiss/American rock band who from this single (5:26) certainly seems to want to be on the radio. This sounds like a softer Alterbridge, or Creed at their balladiest. It could also be the sort of thing you might hear from eliminated American Idol act turned rock stars anyway, Daughtry. The song consists of catchy reverberating melodies and a catchy hook that should see radio play instantly. If you’re a label and you’re looking for a band to make you filthy fucking rich, then look no further than Khaos. I will admit that the band’s name doesn’t match their style by any means imaginable, but these guys show that they’re full of catchy earworms that might certainly broadcast from retail store speaker systems for many years to come. It’s only a matter of time before Universal or Warner Bros. Records picks them up. Not my kind of thing, but someone will love it. Probably a whole lot of people, actually. Definitely mainstream rock.
Incubus – Incubus EP (2014) – Originally released in 1989, this three track EP from the now defunct Georgian death metal band has finally resurfaced. The first disc on the release is the fuzzy but thunderous “God Died On His Knees 4:18” which features a mix of thrash vocal and an almost comical approach to wailing, coupled with some worth death grunts and some definite Slayer influence to the guitar work. There’s some serious Hanneman worship going on here, and the solos on this thing prove it. “Reanimator’s Mutiliations 1:47” is much shorter and still just as fuzzy, but definitely shows a band ready to conquer. Not really sure why that didn’t happen, but the effort is clearly present. On the last fuzzy track of this EP, we’ve got “Engulfed In Unspeakable Horrors 5:35” which shows the band just as ravenous as they were earlier on the disc, with more screaming solos and thumping death metal prowess than they showed on the disc’s first track. Though the EP is short, it makes you wonder as to what would have happened had these guys gotten as famous as Florida’s Deicide. They were both around at the same time, so there was always that chance. At any rate, the rock band Incubus probably would have had to change their name in that circumstance, which would have made all the difference in the world of metal. I do think that metal bands should take the name of demons after all, not alternative rock acts. It’s the devil’s music, after all.
( 3Tracks, 11:00)
Art Of Shock – Open The Cage (2014) – Los Angeles rockers Art Of Shock are definitely catchy enough, adding elements of thrash and punk into their own brand of rowdy music. “Freaking Out 3:19” started the disc with more thrash elements, but also introduced me to the band’s frontman (whose name I am unable to discern by any means via internet search) who has a vocal tone that I just can’t get into. He sounds as squeaky as a little mouse and with such an adrenaline fueled backing like that, it just doesn’t work for me. Worse yet, is “We Don’t Care! 4:18” which is one of the most irritating songs I’ve ever had to listen to in my entire life. It’s catchy sure, but I feel like I want to stick a drill into my ear and turn it on to the highest setting just to relive the audial pain. However, the band does manage to wrap this thing up quite well with the EP’s title track (5:25) showing that they’re still able to command a memorable presence. These guys scored a best BBQ band award at Warped Tour though, so perhaps they’re doing something right. If this interests you, then you should probably pick it up as well as the band’s new full-length record, Live Forever.
Highlights: Open The Cage (4 Tracks, 16:00)
Evil Syndicate – Shadows Of Insanity (2014) – Brazilian death/thrash act Evil Syndicate has been around since 2008 and this is their very first offering (sans an early split) made available as an EP. The EP does well to fill nearly thirty minutes of hard hitting and memorable thrash/death though, with “Slaves Of War 5:03” coming into the fold with a balls out approach, as well as a groove section wherein robotic synthesized vocals soon come into play. They make the track sound even darker in this aspect and give it much less of a human identity. The album’s title track sounds evermore ominous, leading up into a blaze of fury much expected by the listener. This definitely sounds like Brazilian metal and still has remnants of the early Sepultura influence that really seems to shine in most Brazilian bands, giving the death metal more spirit when utilized within these thick thrash sections. It kind of sounds like a mix of Bolt Thrower and Sepultura, which in all honesty is a good fucking mix and works well on the ears. Some creeped out prog melodies appear on “Abyssus Abyssum Invocat 5:22” which shows at times an almost post-black sort of atmosphere. It’s really different and shows a worthy act that is full of different sounds and styles. Even the approach to the drumming in “Skull And Bones 4:40” is a bit unconventional from the rest of the tracks, with its junky, yet militaristic sound coupled with thick vocal gravel and background scowls making for a wonderful fucking listen. I really can’t recommend this one enough and it’s a truly great debut from a band that I want to hear more from. But there’s one last track here called “Destructor Ego 7:57” and it nearly hits the eight minute mark. The track begins normally until atmosphere is utilized for a few seconds, allowing the band to come back in and really bring it home in classic Bolt Thrower style. If I haven’t said it enough already, definitely make sure that you pick this one up when it drops. This is a must for fans of Bolt Thrower, Sepultura, Behemoth and Morbid Angel.
Wolvhammer/Kreig – Split 7″ (2014) –This next split with South Jersey black metallers Krieg, also features Minneapolis blackened sludge metallers Wolvhammer. And nothing against Krieg and their legacy, but I am digging “Slaves To The Grime 6:33” a lot more than I’m probably going to dig the Krieg track. There’s just something about sludge and black metal that seem to meld together wonderfully, making for an inky black mess. It’s filthy, but it still remains the cold chill of black metal, backed with a scowl that fits just as well as it did on the later Satyricon albums that certainly inspired this track. There’s so many different little quirks going on in this one that I think I wouldn’t mind listening to it a couple more times. The band have a new record coming out this year called Clawing Into Black Sun, which I would really like to get my hands on. You might want to keep your eyes peeled for that one as well. Krieg finally comes in with “Eternal Victim 3:54” which is a bit shorter than the Wolvhammer track, but it still manages to deliver just as well with it’s admirably dark atmospheres and a sense of depression that seems to loom and encapsulate the listener with fear. Of course, I embrace that sort of thing; so if you like fear and darkness as much as these two American bands whose members would probably be in insane asylums if they weren’t able to play their music (I know that I can attest to that), then definitely get this split in your hands. I liked it quite a bit and I know that you will too. If you like dark and muddy and sludgy and inky black things, that is…
Leather Chalice – Luna (2014) – This is actually a side project from Ramlord frontman Jan Slezak, which I like a hell of a lot more than the entire Ramlord band. Seriously, Jan does everything himself here making for a really intriguing and experimental black metal atmosphere. I also really like the album cover and probably should ask the guy about it, knowing my curiosity. Keep in mind that I’ve studied the occult quite a bit, so when there’s something that doesn’t quite catch my frame of reference, then I’m kind of curious as to what it means. I actually had to bring up the cover image just one more time, as that’s one of the most awesomely interesting pictures of the moon that I’ve ever seen. Sigils and Kaballah aside, this Vampiric looking moon on the front cover really goes well with the electronic and industrial effects that make up the album’s atmosphere. The scowls on the disc are quite raw, which seems to work as well. It’s very much in the spirit of the old sound, yet retains very much of the new with its post and melodic sense intact. Luna is a weird slab of black metal experimentation that I can’t help but recommend. It would be interesting to do a split with this guy someday. Two separate tracks that carry the same story or theme, but from a different musical perspective. Definitely check out this vicious occultic moon faced piece today. Is he going to do Sol next?
Eleanora – EP (2014) – This is the debut EP from Belgian doom/sludge and post hardcore metallers Eleanora and from what I’ve beheld, it seems to consist of posty riffs slathered over with a thick layer of depression with a hefty amount of pained screaming. It’s almost like emo for the further depressed crowd, those who have slit their wrists to the point where it just feels numb and they’ve practically given up on everything, becoming apathetic to all life. “Mammon 8:08” showed things in a much punchier atmosphere, but “Amenable 7:48” is the sort of thing that will kill any form of positivity in a room within a manner of seconds. It bellows forth with the flavor of atmosphere that is itself quite bitter and full of torture. It literally sounds as if the band’s frontman is suffering in a form of hell here, with his screams echoing out something which would sit rather well in a realm of temporary damnation. I will say that “Amenable 7:48” is much stronger than the previous number, as it seems to have a bit more going for it. Or of course, that could just be me and there is really little difference in the two tracks. I start to wonder what the real difference here would be if the vocals had been switched for scowls or growls though. Could we call it doom/death? The riffs certainly seem to offer that same feeling. But I think I like the sorrowful melodies in doom/death bands a bit more, like Majestic Downfall for example. But to each their own. If sorrow, pain and a feeling of uselessness perpetuate the whole of your life, then definitely give this album a shot.
Sacrificio – Sacrificio (2014) – It’s kind of funny as to how both Autothrall (From The Dust Returned) and I are in stark agreement about how fucking cool these Spanish death metallers look, yet even more comical about when we’re both in agreement about how they sound. To be honest, I really thought this was a remastered reissue, but that’s apparently not the case. On this Demo EP, we’ve got three bronzed Spaniards playing the same notes that Venom, Bathory, Sarcofago (and maybe even King Diamond on those wails) have been playing for what feels like half a century. These guys are so in love with the old school that they’ve taken it to an extreme with this two track release which sounds just as you might expect – old black metal. While there’s nothing really wrong with old black metal and they seem to give it a decent enough approach, there’s nothing on this record that I haven’t already heard done better by Sarcofago. I mean, I just listened to the INRI and Rotting remasters about a month or so ago, and they sounded just fine. There’s really no real need to go back and repave the firmly paved ground that Sarcofago already made their mark on dozens of times. I almost feel like Sacrificio is Sarcofago for the new age of people who didn’t grow up with Sarcofago. And to be honest, those people would soon consider these guys just a bunch of copycats if they’d gotten their hands on INRI earlier. I like the atmospheres and I like the feeling of doom, gloom and mayhem… but I’ve heard it all before and there’s nothing else here other than the awesome armor that could make me recommend this disc. It’s a good enough effort, but fairly decent. But it doesn’t matter what I say really, as these guys are going to play whatever they’re going to play without a further note from me. The band will get together and laugh at my stupid comments, as they go back to their vinyl listening sessions and alcoholic orgies. They’re probably getting more tail than I am, so my review matters not. At any rate, if a brand new record with an ancient black metal aesthetic appeals to you, then give this one a spin.
Deathwhite – Ethereal (2014) – Sometimes, you don’t really get all the information you need when you review bands. All that I know about Deathwhite is that they’re comprised of several members of already established extreme metal bands and that they’re from somewhere in the world. Which makes sense, as obviously there aren’t any interplanetary colonies yet. I also know that the band created this project as a way to explore other avenues of sound, as these guys are heavily inspired by Anathema, 90’s Paradise Lost, Alcest and Katatonia. They say early Anathema, but they really mean mid-era Anathema, because early Anathema was death metal. But in any case, the performance on this release is definitely up to the caliber of music that I personally enjoy quite a bit myself and listen to quite a bit on my playlist. (Most people would be surprised of what comprises my personal playlist). The release offers up six tracks, which consist of beautiful, yet melancholy pieces which are loaded to the brim with melody and fronted with an almost porcelain vocal approach. The fragility of the vocals and the crystalline sense of musicianship here make this record something that is so brittle, that I’d be afraid to drop and break it. Though heavy and sometimes even progressive riffs exist on the piece, its content as a whole seems to be a great mix of everything that I’ve just named in this review. While it’s definitely not a truly original approach, it’s certainly something that will have melancholy prog rock fans running as fast as they can to the band’s Bandcamp page where they pick this thing up for about a dollar a song, roughly. Included as an extra bonus is “A Burden To Carry 5:33” which was recorded earlier in 2013 during a separate studio session, but it works well with the somber atmosphere of the rest of the piece and equals out to an emotionally powerful listen. If heartfelt could be a term used to describe music, then Ethereal would certainly be worthy of it. Something tells me that this is the beginning of something truly noteworthy and a sure contender in the rock scene. Definitely give it a shot.
Super Happy Fun Slide – Drop Your Pants And Glide (2014) – Super Happy Fun Slide grinds their way into a playground full of excitement, with these Australian grinders flying through BRUUTAL death metal mixed in with punk and all sorts of other mannerisms, filled with voice clips of all varieties and containing one Napalm Death cover of “Prison Without Walls 0:34”, one Egrogsid cover of “Homebrand Holocaust 1:05” and one cover of Libido Airbag’s “Clit Cannibal.” Truth be told, my MP3 died on me, so I had to use my phone to play some promos in order to get them listened to in time for review. Well, I tried the headphones, but it made my head feel funny coming out of the phone and brain cancer sounds like it sucks, so I just relegated to blasting my tunes while in the back room. My album list is random, so power metal could start playing and end, and then this comes up and plays the whole way through. But in the case an electronic disc played first while I was unloading a truck and no one seemed to have a problem with that. Then these guys started and I of course had to keep telling my co-workers it’s just music and it’s all in fun. One of them found it a little frightening, so then I had the discussion “band image vs. reality” with them and they kind of got the picture. After you get through explaining to people that just because people dress up and sing about evil stuff, that doesn’t mean they’re actually evil in person. Hell, they’d be in fucking jail and it’s not the Norwegian black metal circle of the late nineties anymore. The goddamned gangsters in the rap scene are worse than anything we metalheads have done in the past few years. But yes, the music was quite vehement and sounded a bit demonic for about a half an hour, after which it changed over to the new Equilibrium (folk metal release) and my co-workers suddenly realized as jaunty flutes began to play that… “Holy shit, this guy listens to everything.” Of which I’m truly guilty. So if Australian grindcore suits your palette and you want to hear rowdy drums, vocals, riffs and everything else that these guys can stomach, then be my guest. I’ve always liked the song titles more than the actual songs on these records, but within the menagerie of noise there are a few killer cuts to be had. Just wish they were longer. Guess I’m not the biggest grind fan either. But with songs like “Maximum Titty” and “Firecracker Up Your Clacker” as well as “Schoolgirl Shishkebab” and “The Funky Smell Of Fuck”, I’m sure that there’s no real way you can go wrong with this. It’s loud, heavy and often times completely overbearing. It will piss people off, especially if they didn’t know that music like this ever existed on planet earth.
Hard Tension – Fear And Guilt (2014) – Portuguese Neoclassical power metallers Hard Tension offer up an alright EP with this second outing. It shows an act who have their Iron Maiden in check, with a little bit of thrash influence here and there. Other than some guitar theatrics here and there, it just seems kind of bland compared to other acts in the genre and still needs a little bit of work. The vocalist doesn’t really sit well with me, but it’s obvious that he’s trying as much as the band’s keyboardist and guitarist are. The instrumental sections of the record are great, but the vocals can sometimes go a little overboard and once again; it all needs some work. These guys can most certainly play and they do a promising job in that respect on this release, but I feel that I’d like to hear some lengthier tracks on a future release so that I can really get a feel for the instrumentation here. There’s nothing really wrong with hard hitters like the album’s title track (4:31) and “Lords Of Salem 3:32” being much shorter affairs than what would appear on a normal neo-classical power metal album, but they’re certainly no Galneryus and I understand that. I can’t really recommend it, unless you’re a truly hardcore fan of neoclassical power metal and even then, I’d recommend Dragon Guardian or the aforementioned Galneryus. I’m sure that in time Hard Tension might be something worth lamenting over, but certainly not now.
Cemetery Fog – Towards The Gates 12″ (2014) – This is the very first outing from Finnish death metallers Cemetery Fog, that is not a demo release. Instead, it is a full EP running in at about the usual length and featuring three largely potent gloomy death metal pieces that are sandwiched in between an intro and outro piece, respectively. While both of those pieces are relatively decent, the real meat of this disc consists in its almost gothic death metal approach, which sets it far apart from other bands in the Finnish death metal scene. “Withered Dreams Of Death 8:40” features haunting symphonics, early Paradise Lost melodies and even the use of gothic organs. Such is continued on “Embrace Of The Darkness 7:30” which even utters some light clean vocals, of which it seems the frontman might be a little nervous about throwing these on the release. They do manage to fit in well with the atmosphere though and work wonderfully as a segue to the much heavier portions of the track. “Shadow Of Her Tomb 9:42” technically ends us out with many of the same elements in which our journey began, mixing the right amount of dark and lighter elements together to create a sound that isn’t entirely original, but highly promising. Towards The Gates is one of the most promising EP releases this year and makes my mouth water for future material in the years to come. Of course, this is already one hell of a gloomy appetizer… like a plate of zombified mozzarella sticks.
Rippikoulu – Ulvaja (2014) – Rippikoulu is the very first death metal band that began singing in Finnish, but they never really managed to get off the ground. The band went completely on hiatus in 1995 due to the death of their guitarist, and hasn’t resurfaced until now, with this first EP release in almost twenty years. There’s not really a whole lot here, but what is offered is decent enough. According to other much longer reviews, the effort’s not that strong and I do in part agree with them. The thing is, I think that the band took so much time off that they really need to get back into the swing of things. The first track “Jää Hyvästi Kaunis Kesä 6:08” sounds like a mix of ethereal soundscapes and death metal dirges, taking things much into the same vein that Cemetery Fog also went, yet much slower. There’s also a light clean vocal in the background, which I think does much to fortify the piece and creates a memorable enough atmosphere. “Loputon 2:39” shows things getting a bit heavier, but never really going anywhere. The disc ends with the title track (8:36) which brings back the feeling of its opener, but twists the sound into an evil more vile contortion that doesn’t truly let up and is only further enhanced by the heavenly synths. Ulvaja seems to show a band with plenty of potential, even this late in the game. I think that with some more work, these guys could become even stronger on their first full-length album. Even though other reviewers are willing to give it the sucker punch, I’m not going to throw in the towel yet on these guys. There’s something here… and I want to see it fully realized.
Morbidity – Revealed From Ashes (2014) – These death metallers are from a little country called Bangladesh, where most of the pants on the merchandise trucks that I unload and unpack come from. But apparently the country also has a small metal scene, from which these guys originate. It’s a strong enough attempt, which sees some regurgitated Slayer riffs (“Decaying Souls 2:11” sounds like “South of Heaven”) along with pulverized drumming and screaming guitar solos. To be honest, it just sounds like Slayer-infused death metal and that’s not entirely amazing. Coming in at just a little under thirty minutes, this EP shows that these Bangladeshi death metallers want to be noticed on a global scale, but perhaps they should just stick to making their homeland a bit more metal until they get their bearings.
Servants Of The Mist – Gross Knowledge Of Genital Mutilation (2014) – These Floridian sludge/doom/death metallers got some major recognition for their last EP Suicide Sex Pact, from quite a few sites that are more famous than ours (for now.) We’ve got Doom-Metal.com (I didn’t know there was one), Invisible Oranges (which sounds more like a title for a piece of abstract are than a metal review site) The Sleeping Shaman (I’d better not wake him). Two Guys Metal (As long as there’s no cup involved) Temple Of Perdition (Sounds more like a band name to me) and finally, my favorite: Mister Growl. Though this guy probably would hate me forever, I think I could write a short story about Mister Growl. I’m picturing a man in his forties with a grizzled beard who gets up in the morning and bellows loudly and digs into a huge feast of meat. Bacon piled to the moon, enough sausage to build a miniature replica of the Eiffel tower… You get the idea.
At any rate, all of these sites really seemed to love the noise, dirt and grime that these denizens of the swamp have put out. Hopefully they’ll feel the same way about the group’s latest release, Gross Knowledge Of Genital Mutilation which certainly does have that sort of EyeHateGod atmosphere as previously described. I really liked the atmospheric opener “Sadism & Suffering 1:35” quite a bit as it makes room for “Undeserving 11:53” as thick doom riffs pummel me right over the fucking head and raspy scowls (and it’s not even black metal) emanate Richard Smyth Jr. in a rather hazardous manner, something that makes me think he’s either losing his shit, or has already lost it. The amps actually seem to play a huge role in the band’s sound however, creating a lethargic, yet hateful atmosphere which can be severely felt by the listener upon the first spin of the disc. This is the kind of music that pissed off people play to other pissed off people and its 100% catharsis that will appeal to both the laborman and the disgruntled student who both share in the distress of a system gone horribly fucking wrong. “Commit Suicide 3:28” pretty much explains the stance of the band’s view of humanity, as they urge you to “take some pills and take your life” even though they don’t say exactly how many you would have to take. And some would mean just a few, so it should be “Take a lot of pills.” But that’s just me being a fucking grammar Nazi again. At any rate, the whole thing ends with what I think is G.G. Allin himself saying that he has “it all” and has “your kids.” I didn’t know much about the guy other than the fact that he was psycho, but at least there’s a sense that the man knew what he was doing. Perhaps he was trying to start some kind of revolution, went nuts and failed. But that’s what happens to most people who try to start a revolution anyway. The last track is the title cut (7:59) which is the slowest of the bunch. Normally, I wouldn’t be able to get into something like this, but today it feels like the mood is right for this kind of music (at least inside my head at least) and the gravel really seems to help the approach to become that much more menacing. Unfortunately, it kind of just cuts off at a weird section in the song and seems unfinished. I don’t understand why they chose to end the piece that soon, especially when I could still discern that music had been playing. It seems like an unnecessary edit. Abrupt is never the answer. But if you’re into destruction and apathy, and have a general “fuck everything” approach to life in general; then you’ll probably want to pick up this depressive and angry record. It’s definitely comprised of a great sense of catharsis, which either make you feel better or worse after you’ve played it.
Shaved Women – Just Death (2014) – Shaved Women is a Missouri based punk act that fuses their sound with elements of metal and hardcore, which probably makes them some other newfangled genre that I’m not aware of yet. But as I listen further to this effort, it just kind of sounds like punk. I like punk, but I don’t like when punk doesn’t really do anything new or different. Personally, shaved women or unshaved women don’t really matter much to me, as any woman would be better than none (stay tuned for my upcoming Tinder rant) but these four individuals are far from the beauties that their name advertises. At any rate, you really can’t go wrong with this album if you like traditional and somewhat lo-fi punk. It has all the trimmings of what traditional punk like Black Flag and The Misfits were made of, but it’s a bit more brackish and hits a bit harder. I think the frontman’s vocalist really packs a punch and makes it stand out, showing how a music style that in part formed thrash is still alive and well just as much as the punk it inspired. Once again, I don’t think you can go wrong with a traditional punk album and this is definitely one that will remind you of the genre’s glory days. Whether you had a shaved head or a Mohawk and binged on Troma films while drinking copious amounts of liquor and fucking random chicks, this definitely reminds me of the eighties and it’s not something we should push back, no matter how popular pop-punk is getting these days. I remember when stuff was gritty and rough and that’s what Shaved Women bring to the table. Think anything like this still has a place on the Warped Tour?
SCORING: 10 – Great, 9 – Good, 8 – Solid, 7 – Decent, 6 – Alright, 5 – Mediocre 4 – Less Than Mediocre, 3 – Flawed, 2 – Poor, 1 – Garbage, 0 – Unlistenable