Eight reviews in one day is absolute hell, but I managed it. I began this little incursion at 2:00 PM and now it’s 10:40 PM. So naturally, I’m not doing a single thing for the Tower tomorrow. But by that time, you’ll be reading this hefty amount of work, which is made up of several acts that I enjoyed and thought were necessary to promote. You heard me right, there are no commissions here, just records that stuck out and towered above the rest. As a matter of fact, I have so many strong releases that I’m unsure as to whom to give a spotlight to. Phenomenal acts from death to black metal to post and even electronic music are being honored for their efforts here and that’s really how I like it. I’ve got some commissions for next week though, so we’ll see how that turns out. No one here received a bad score, so please check them all out!
(There’s no Bonsai Bonus this week either, Japanese metal fans. Just consider the Sigh review that I posted earlier to be your Bonsai Bonus and the Hammer King review to be a little extra. I will have a Bonsai Bonus for you next week. Moushiwake Arimasen!)
Minsk – The Crash and The Draw (2015 spotlight) – After a long time of waiting, the first album from these Illinois post-metallers since 2009’s With Echoes In The Movement Of Stone has finally been conjured forth. And I do say that with all meaning, as this record is definitely one fierce in ritualism in addition to rampant heaviness. It even tinges on what feels like a sort of death or black metal, which is a little unexpected for the act, even though it shows them turning over a new leaf in so far as style is concerned. This record burns with a fiery passion that is a complete manifestation of the desires from these five gentlemen, from Chris Bennett’s venomous vocal roars, to Tim Mead’s softer clean approaches, to Aaron Austin’s fiery leads that seem to deal a double dose of damage when paired up with Bennett’s. Zachary Livingston’s bass is also utilized tremendously and he seems to provide most of the earthquake as Kevin Rendleman’s drumming works to balance the whole thing out and add more fuel to this voracious fire. “To The Initiate 12:42” begins essentially what sounds like a fiery ritual, complete with animalistic shouts and sheer moments of intangible fury. Yet there are also some moments of atmosphere in it as well, which make me think of one thing in particular. Being a magician myself, I am somewhat reminded of the original nature of a ritual, in which one must shout with vehemence, force and a sense of will in order to manifest a certain desire. The magician must be sure of himself as weaklings are usually devoured by their own uncertainty. A slight wind, or whirl passes us by as “Within and Without 7:57” atmospherically proceeds to bash our heads in, in a most un-ritualistic manner (but perhaps in early sacrifices, the bashing of the head was necessary) as a sense of anger that I haven’t heard from these guys before seems to erupt. I used to listen to Minsk while I wrote books due to their atmospheric and ritualistic qualities, but this sludgy beast sounds like a more venomous style of the act, making me think that the wolves on the front cover are set to devour the listener whole. But let’s not be hasty, as there are certainly moments in which the atmosphere and clean vocal are observed, dulling the blade just a little. I will add that the final note of this piece is a vocal one, and the frontman sounds awfully sure of himself while implementing it. That’s a rather lengthy howl, which feels like it’s coming from a man who truly feels the scope and nature of the record. In other words, it’s how a man emotionally conceptualizes something of which he has a deep passion. As the “Onward Procession I-V 21:00” begins, this same amount of primal fury rages through two complete sections, leaving the third one to a deeper sense of atmosphere and a definite sense of incantation, or possibly simply affirmation. But whatever the case, it should work, especially in a format that will digitally distributed to hundreds of thousands of people, possibly even millions. There’s no telling how many of them are all going to be listening to The Crash and The Draw at the same time, but if we imagine all of these echoing manifestations reverberating throughout the whole world, then certainly that has to conduct some kind of energy. Humans are essentially batteries in that respect, so one might expect the energy, will, and desire put forth in this music to homogenize with the energies of the human who is being exposed to it. This can essentially change several things, like brainwave patterns and even the way that the body functions. As we move forward from the pulverizing nature of the aforementioned procession, a moment of clarity befalls us in the form of “Conjunction 4:53.” It’s essentially soft and meditative, as crystalline and calmative as the ocean and it feels like the watery balance to the fires that have been raging since the record began. These waters continue to flow as “The Way Is Through 9:23” brings in lighter melodies, cleaner vocals and a more atmospheric rock approach. I’m quite happy about it too, because it shows that Minsk have the ability to offer the best of both worlds. But don’t think that this is a completely lighter side of the act as thunders begin to rage and the fire comes roaring back in full force to dry up the water completely. After the fire has burned away everything in its path, the ritual drums break in with “To You There Is No End 2:48” and a sound that feels like it’s come from the pagan circles of old makes itself known. “To The Garish Remembrance Of Failure 6:22” throws some more wood back into the fire, but it utilizes more oblong riff melodies and even some touches of clean vocal. The frontman does manage to envelop himself in fire completely near the end of the track, as the wind takes this piece into a completely different world. The disc ends with “When The Walls Fell 10:26” which seems to combine the watery melody and airy atmospheres of previous cuts with the earthen thunder and harsh fires that initiated the album. It ultimately feels like a combination of the four elements, if one can indeed say that all of them have been captured in certain areas of the release. I can say in no uncertain terms that The Crash and The Draw is certainly one of Minsk’s heaviest releases to date and it’s definitely what fans of post-metal crave. This is a ritual that you’ll certainly be coming back to, as it’s both heavy as hell and light as a feather. But more often than not, that feather seems to seems to spark up and ignite, which seems a good metaphor for the album. Get your flaming feather today!
(11 Tracks, 75:00)
Haar – The Wayward Ceremony (2015) – This is the debut full-length from Scottish atmospheric black metallers Haar and I can certainly say that it’s more than just a little interesting. You see, these guys know how to mix their melody with their atmosphere and that makes for something not just grim and creepy, but also rather artistic and at times surreal. There are many atmospheric black metal acts out there these days, but Haar caught my eye due to the performance and craftsmanship of the recording alone. Compared to hundreds of other acts, I chose these guys because they offered a real sense of bleak darkness, which wraps itself inside truly memorable atmospheres and offers up that dose of melody that I was mentioning earlier. There are tremolos and harsh vocal scowls, as well as a little bit of blasting, but their drummer is not named something out of the Necronomicon and Steve proves that he can play the drums just as well or better than any other drummer who chooses to call himself something more mysterious. You see, Haar have enough atmospheres in their performance to not need a whole bunch of silly names. I see four gentlemen who clearly have a good grip on the very core gear of the genre, and with that good grip, comes a forward-moving release that delivers in the oblong sense that it should. We’re expecting something a little otherworldly here, like the sort of sound that appears to have encroached into another dimension of existence and that’s exactly what you’ll get with The Wayward Ceremony. Being Scotsmen, I’m quite surprised at the lack of bagpipes (I’m not making fun, as I really would have liked to hear folk instruments mixed in here somewhere) and other folk instruments that you usually hear quite a bit over there, but considering the Deathspell Omega and Blut Aus Nord influence that pervades the release, I can see why they chose to follow a more traditional path in regards to atmospheric black metal. Haar plays exactly the kind of music that you might expect to be represented on the album cover, but it seems to have more life in it than most of the French acts who retread the same thing. I really think it’s the mix of melody and texture that does it for me, and I’ll add that the record also has a very strong production value which makes the instruments more audible than on most releases of this nature. Most bands like to play the style raw, and that results in a loss of instruments more often than not. Bands, if I can’t hear your melodies, then how am I supposed to get excited about your record? More often than not, riffs get lost in the mix and fade into back, making what sounds like a muddy and monotonous mix. The Wayward Ceremony pushes it all frontwards, which results in a higher quality of sound and audible vocal lines that serve to make the experience all the more entertaining. These Scottish black metallers might have just come into the scene with The Wayward Ceremony, but it’s a sign that they’ll be sticking around for quite a while. Though I’m curious as to what the future will hold for these guys, this record is more than enough to keep my appetite satiated for black metal. Pass the haggis and keep the metal coming, guys. I’ve already got a plate ready for the next helping.
(7 Tracks, 59:00)
Apophys – Prime Incursion (2015) – These Netherlanders play technical death metal, and if that isn’t apparent to you from the album cover and band moniker, then you might just need your eyes checked. If you’re looking for a disc that is excessively brutal and absolutely unrelenting in every way possible, then you’ll absolutely fall into a dark and abyssal relationship with this monstrosity. Fiendish drumming courtesy of Michiel Van Der Plicht (who also plays in the almighty God Dethroned) backs every track on the record, while the vocals manage to deliver with such an outstanding amount of vibrance that literally makes the whole damn experience worth a listen. Kevin Quilligan (Erebus, Temple) really packs a punch, let me reiterate – really packs a punch on this record and it’s quite certain that you’ll be coming back to the disc for just his performance alone. The band’s dual axemen, Koen Romejin and Sanne Van Dijk definitely show their stripes, but it’s still too early to tell, at least from this recording as to how much chemistry has really been formed here. I’m hearing a lot of familiar riffs coupled with the kind of atmosphere that one might expect from technicality in an extreme construct, but I feel that all of this technicality fails to do much for me other than to provide background noise. It almost seems like Apophys are trying to be technical for technicality’s sake and only the solos really seem to shine through, if they’re even given that much time to do so. What you’ll feel from the record most is its crunch, which proves that bassist Mickeal actually plays a bigger role in the band than most bassists in the majority of death metal acts that I’ve heard. This fact alone might prove a major listening point for the act, especially if you love a death metal performance that really crunches down, let me reiterate – really crunches down when all has been observed. There’s still some obvious work to be done here, but those looking to be kicked in the face with a steel-toed boot surely won’t notice it. I can’t say that I’m disappointed with the record, but there were some moments when it definitely began to sound like grinding concrete. Nevertheless, it’s still a very solid listen from an act with plenty of experience, talent and potential. It’ll knock your teeth out and leave you bleeding on the ground, but it won’t open your mind to any new horizons… At least not yet.
(9 Tracks, 39:00)
GosT – Behemoth (2015) – Though the cover might look to be that of a fearsome black metal act, GosT are actually an electronic act from the US with a penchant for dark electronic atmospheres. Comparable to bands like Pertubator and even Daft Punk in some moments, there’s definitely an 80’s retro-jam vibe about this release and I’ve dug just about all of it. I say “just about all of it” because there’s one track in particular that doesn’t seem to work with the rest of the mix. It also features a female-fronted pop effort on the vocals, which made me feel a little uneasy. I’m warming up to it with every listen as it sort of reminds me of one of the tunes from Double Dragon Neon, but one certainly has to admit that it sticks out like a sore thumb compared to horror-inspired tracks like “Night Crawler” or “Bathory Bitch.” In all honesty, I’m just glad that someone snatched these guys up, because the world needs more of this kind of music in it. While I also believe that Behemoth would sound great in a video game, it’s definitely the kind of stuff you might hear while at the club during a rave party. Being a huge fan of electronic music, I’m quite excited for a disc like this and hope that the giant inverted cross on the front cover doubles as a stake and that the ghastly figure on the front cover has his sights set on the plague known as dubstep. If horror-electronic is what we need to slaughter the great beast, then I’m all for it. Behemoth is the kind of electronic album that I could listen to over and over, despite even the unfortunate “pop” moment (which again, I am slowly warming up to) and I would highly recommend it to all fans of new wave beats, darkwave atmosphere and electronic music that sounds the way that it used to. House, trance, drum and bass and other brands of the genre are all great, but the retro-smash of Behemoth is just what the mad scientist ordered. These guys apparently have an S/T and another record entitled Skull on their Bandcamp page, so go check those out while you’re waiting for this to release.
(11 Tracks, 39:00)
Amestigon – Thier (2015) – Austria’s Amestigon haven’t released a record in five years (and apparently MA doesn’t care as their last record Sun of all Suns hasn’t even been reviewed yet) but with the release of Thier, I think it’s time for the metal community to start noticing and stop procrastinating. You see, Thier mixes together traditional black metal with awesome melodic tinges, synth atmospheres and gothic dark metal moments together to make something truly fascinating. I’m almost reminded of a better Enslaved at this point, being that these guys sound closer to the raw natured black metal style that first gave us Frost. But this is obviously something much more, as the song structures work to show, culminating in a truly memorable release from beginning to end. Truly, if one seeks to observe the textures in this album, they’ll be amazed by the level of craftsmanship (and not to mention great solo offerings) utilized in these four tracks. Though there are only four songs on the release, each of them span over the ten minute mark, with the title cut (19:55) almost encroaching upon twenty minutes. So you’re definitely in for a long listening experience here. But I’ll reiterate and add that it is also a great listening experience that you will remember for years to come. Tracks like “358 10:51” feature more atmosphere than vocal, which adds to the quality of the performance here (even though the voice clips seem to be rather muddy and hard to hear in the mix) as chants work their way to the centermost point. The very fact that Amestigon are able to balance all of these things out and not allow things to get too jumbled is one of the album’s main calling points to me and I’m sure that fans of atmospheric and raw black metal (with impressive solos, don’t forget!) will find themselves head over heels in love with this one. I hear a lot of supposed “atmospheric black metal” acts and it’s definitely an odd occurrence when one of them sticks out to me as being worth covering. Though it’s happened in the past, bands like Amestigon are one in a million and stand out from all the Agalloch clones out there that just seem to want to make folk-inspired post black stuff. There’s just not enough I can say about the inventiveness and the overall willingness of the band to turn this paved and repaved style into something more monolithic. It’s a shame that not as many people will hear this record as need to, but perhaps later on down the line the band will be discovered by a bigger zine and will be covered proper. But if you decide to check out this review and can read between the lines and really get a grip on what I’m saying, then perhaps you’ll understand what I mean about the masterful work being done by these gentlemen. I’ve never heard of them until now, and I feel rather bad about that. I’m not sure what kind of music they made beforehand, but Thier is a truly exceptional release and serves as an evolution from whatever form of black metal these guys had been playing in the past. Perhaps the band moved on from what looked to be earlier kvlt attempts and the metal scene no longer cares. As the elitist mindset continues to destroy all that is good in heavy music, bands like Amestigon get chewed up in the mix, becoming an unfortunate casualty of the Starbucks brand metal that we’ve been cataloguing for years now. When you listen to Their, listen to it with an open mind and give it some time to soak in. I’m rather impressed and I feel that you will be as well.
(4 Tracks, 52:00)
Despot – Pictures Of The Void EP (2015) – Tis but an EP, but this record was simply too good to have to wait for the May Shortlist. Brazilian one-man army B.A.V. (accompanied by a drummer, keyboardist and backup vocalist by the name of Diego) prove their black metal might instantly with opener “Bound Forever 5:45” which sticks to a kvlt and familiar approach in the beginning, but later incorporates more playful riff structures in addition to the frost. The hordes will indeed be pleased with this one, but it doesn’t stop there as “Artifact 7:16” enforces more melody into the mix, making way for a direct hit entitled “Bastard Hive 5:42.” This is where I feel the record truly shines, as it not only serves to dazzle in the way of guitar ejaculate and thrash, but in proud and exciting moments towards the end in which B.A.V.’s vocals and guitar playing skills work hand in hand, almost recalling the greatness of Dissection, who is certainly an influence here. The album ends with “A Sick Man’s Dream 6:47” which continues to show the act at their very best. As the drums blast and the tremolos howl, I’m taken aback by the tremendous amount of effort launched forth in the finale, especially right towards the very end of the album (even if the solo of awesomeness is indeed subject to a horrific fade out). All in all, this short but well-meant EP release does manage to serve as a satisfying appetizer to the act’s formidable last effort, Satan In The Death Row and demonstrates that the act isn’t out of steam yet. In fact, they might be getting even stronger. If nothing else, Pictures Of The Void brings me into a state of increased anticipation for the outfit’s next recording, which will no doubt blow this one out of the water. Even so, Pictures Of The Void is a tremendous black metal release that you shouldn’t grow tired of quickly. This I feel, is what happens when an act chooses to reinvent instead of repave over a classic style and they succeed in spades.
(4 Tracks, 25:00)
Viper Solfa – Carving An Icon (2015) – Fresh off the heels of the now demolished Trail Of Tears, frontman Ronny Thorsen (along with three former members of the aforementioned) recruited former Ancient and Limbonic Art axe-slinger Morfeus as well as sultry Ram-Zet siren Miriam “Sphinx” Renvag for this veritable supergroup, which play a mixture of gothic black metal with power metal influences… That’s something that you certainly don’t hear every day and from the fifth listen of this thing (I’ve had to listen to it quite a bit actually, especially while writing my interview for Morfeus – You’ll see it soon) I can tell you that it’s definitely worth all the hype. What you may not know is that much of this material was actually written for Mayhem and it does come off in that fashion. Pummeling black metal serves to back Thorsen’s harsh scowls and Sphinx’s angelic vocal harmonies in addition to the use of thick keyboards, which more or less illustrate the entire album. Make no mistake, this album is most certainly heavy and seems to remind me of Ram-Zet’s earlier works like Escape and Sirenia’s An Elixir For Existence (their most black metal inspired effort, so go hear it, if you haven’t) which are all welcome to my ears and incredibly refreshing. I’ll even say that compared to the work in Trail Of Tears, I like this effort far better than anything I’ve heard from them to date. Maybe I’m just a stickler for gothic black metal, but listening to Carving An Icon reminds me of the days when I used to jam early Sirenia and Ram-Zet constantly as a teenager while biking to and from work. I almost feel like I wore those records out, so it’s almost surreal to be nearing my thirties and hearing an approach that reminds me of the days when I had just become old enough to drink. Now I’ll admit that there isn’t a whole heck of a lot of structure here for the most part and many of the tracks sound derivative of each other, but it certainly pounds my eardrums with almost a modern sense that works to remind me of Graveworm’s Nutopia, which was another disc I played more than an awful lot. While all of this nostalgia is well and good, focusing on the album as a whole results in an operatic, slightly atmospheric and overly punishing debut that will appeal greatly to fans of a more grandiose vision of extremity with a slightly nuanced sound that might turn others away. You can’t please everyone, but this is certainly a solid debut that should make fans of Morfeus’ early works extremely happy. As it stands, two progenitors of gothic extreme metal got together with one of the best damn female vocalists in it, and came out with a record that no one is going to be upset with. They can only evolve from here, but the question is; in what direction will that be? In any case, Carving An Icon is just the kind of thing that my twenty-year old self (and if I could only go back to those days knowing what I knew now) would have loved to jam. It serves to show that these musicians still know how to perform the style that they originally began before everything became rosy and pop-natured. I’m almost curious to what my younger self would think of this one if I was able to jump through time and bring it to him. Of course, I’d get a load of the guy and probably laugh at him. Still, he had good taste. Excuse me, while I get that time machine ready and deliver this blast from the past back to the past! Surely that won’t disrupt the flow of current events… right?
(10 Tracks, 52:00)
City Of Ships – Ultraluminal (2015) – US rockers City Of Ships have been together since 2005 and this is their first album since 2011’s Mirror World. That would make a six year gap in between, which certainly showcases a refreshed and rather hungry act that seem more than capable of delivering memorable stargaze inspired rock on this third opus. The band’s frontman Eric Jernigan delivers a rather glassy approach as you might expect for such dreamy, yet thundering rock and I’m almost reminded of the Deftones in some instances. That Chino Moreno influence is here just as much as a sort of punk or emo nature, but even though Eric’s vocal might seem a little whiny in some instances, it certainly works in retrospect. There’s also a certain grunge inspired element to the act, which dirties up things and makes for a sort of “heavy art rock.” The band work to mix the fuzz and the space dust together in a fashion that pounds as much as it glimmers, with catchy choruses, spacey melodies and an atmosphere that works for more than just radio play. It’s really odd for me to be interested in such an act, especially considering the fact that vocal element is the kind that I usually shy away from, but here I feel it has a little bit more of a rock vibe and that seems to be more controlled, rather than screaming for the sake of screaming. You know, a lot of these screamo acts just feature a great deal of frantic yelling with no real sense of rhyme or reason, but when Eric screams along with Andrew’s melodies, there’s definitely something to be said for the quality of this act. It’s not the kind of band that I would normally recommend and even some people would call me a sort of traitor to whatever quasi-scene I’m supposed to be a part of for liking it. But as I’ve reached the age of thirty, I’ve began to give much less of a damn as to what people expect of one to like and/or enjoy. We don’t not live in the oppressive dictatorship of 1984 and there is no governmental standard which states that a man cannot enjoy dreamy space rock and pummeling black and death metal at the same time. The point is, I can feel the emotions vomited forth on this record, and I feel like when these guys upchuck, stars and planets escape from their mouths. I definitely feel that City Of Ships are better than anything on the radio right now, which apparently seems to be stuck in the nineties, according to our local rock station. But if ever they decide to move beyond Nirvana, Bush, Jane’s Addiction and mid-era Metallica, I am sure that people will catch on to newer rock evolutions like this. Even though inspired by screamo metal and possibly post rock, this is most definitely a form of modern rock which feels like it belongs in 2015. It doesn’t come off as an overly aggressive work and doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is. Nor does it need to. Though I have not heard the band’s previous albums and am not aware of any sort of line-up changes or overall style changes, songs like “Hardwired 3:56”, “Illawara Escarpment 4:13” and “Private Party 3:10” give me all of the proof I need as to the notability of this act. If you’re looking for rock that sounds like someone actually put some thought into it, then you’ll certainly enjoy Ultraliminal as much as I have. Not so grim, but The Grim Tower certainly recommends it.
(10 Tracks, 38:00)
Deivos – Theodicy (2015) – I guess it’s better late than never, but this is the first album I’ve heard from these Polish tech-deathers and it also happens to be their fourth full-length. Comparatively, this record seems to be the worst out of their releases on MA (but that’s due to some guy by the name of “thrashidote” who is oddly enough reviewing the album for a thrash website. He may have wanted to review the below instead.) but that’s complete and utter bollocks, or it wouldn’t be here. Yes, that’s right folks, trust that I’m not steering you in the wrong direction with this exquisitely crafted and positively ferocious technical death metal recording. (In fact, I’m almost willing to think that “thrashidote” is some kind of troll and that MA needs to step up on their reviewing policies.) Not only are we getting a record that doesn’t follow the common structure, but it also delivers about ten tons of vocal gravel, along with its mountainous drum battalions and thicker than gravy bass riffs. I’ve never been the biggest fan of tech-death, but when done with the amount of pungency as is offered here, the results are simply staggering. Deivos proves to punish, but they know when to let up as well and allow for more intelligent musings. It’s this mixture of unhinged brutality and calculated skill that seem to put Deivos closer to the scale of early Decapitated and further from more modernized acts like Psycroptic. But I’ve forgotten to mention one other part of this formula and that lies within the electronics section. Electronics and industrial elements in particular certainly play a role in this performance and that separates the band from a plethora of other technical death metal acts. Another thing I might add is that Deivos aren’t purveyors of melody, which you’ll find in acts like Obscura where a more spatial approach is utilized. That’s not so here, as the band appear to be more interested in an educated ripping off of your face, sort of like a hypothesis to gather as to whether or not it is humanly possible to tear off a human face while balancing an abacus and calculating the square root of Pi times one sextillion divided by the speed of light, which is equal to the mass and circumference of a dodecahedron. If you haven’t heard of these Polish tech-deathers yet, then Theodicy is a great place to start. Poland has already delivered some of the best technical death that we’ve ever heard and it seems that the country that brought us “Spheres Of Madness” isn’t finished delivering musical children to us yet. Better late than never, indeed. Even if the progenitors of this Polish breed are pursuing more groove metal sentiments, at least Deivos prove that the real thing still exists. If you’ve grown tired of latter Decapitated efforts, then Deivos might be just what you’re looking for. True technical death metal isn’t dead yet!
(6 Tracks, 41:00)
Biotoxic Warfare – Lobotomized (2015) – This is the debut full-length from Grecian death/thrashers Biotoxic Warfare who are being covered, because they stuck out among the rest! So what made these guys tower over the others? Well, first of all we have an impeccable drum performance from Orestis Drapaniotis which serves to decorate the whole album with blood and carnage. I’ve always said that you can’t have a good thrash band without a good drummer and he proves that point menacingly. To have a good thrash band, you’ve also got to have a good guitarist, especially in the solo area (as 9/10 of thrash should be the fucking guitar solo) and shredder George “Dimator” Dimitrakakis demonstrates that point throughout each of these songs, especially on “Baptized In Blood and Greed 5:14” (which also serves as the title of the band’s earlier released EP) which begins with a fucking solo, as it erupts into an all-out thrash-fest. As far as vocals are concerned, Mike Kavalos manages to bring a notable amount of grunt to the mix, even though I feel it sounds a little ham-fisted at times. But you didn’t really come for the vocals, now did you? At any rate, the musical performance here definitely delivers and showcases what I think thrash metal should sound like. There’s nothing here that isn’t out of place or hasn’t been inspired by the Gods of thrash and that’s what thrash fans are going to want to hear. “We don’t want no keyboards and violins and female clean vocals! We want angry thrash from angry men!” and that’s exactly what you’re getting here. Lobotomized is like an injection of testosterone and represents masculinism as a whole. It’s a very manly attempt that men should enjoy with other men and beer, preferably. Lyrically, it’s a steel-toed boot to Jesus’s face and it comes packed with military fatigues and a heaping helping of chaos. There’s also some song structures worth mentioning at times, showing that these guys aren’t just playing by the book and are at times experimenting. That’s a very healthy thing for thrash, especially when the core elements are left untouched. Ultimately, even though the band considers themselves death/thrash, it’s very seldom that I hear real “death metal” elements in the music and they more closely resemble classic thrash with a slightly nuanced approach. Let’s not use the term nuanced though, as these guys aren’t your simple “throwback.” They have a lot of potential and you don’t need me to tell you that. If this review doesn’t make you want to check out this blistering thrash disc, then I’ve failed as a reviewer. There’s still some work that can be done, I’ll admit. But it’s definitely headed in the right direction and time will tell whether they’ll be back in the future to give Jesus another ass kicking.
(8 Tracks, 37:00)
Putrid Offal – Mature Necropsy (2015) – According to my leaflet, Putrid Offal haven’t put a record out since 1992 and they represent a time when grindcore and death metal were very close. Well, that’s exactly what I’m hearing from Mature Necropsy and I’ve really got to say that I’m impressed. This record just hit my mailbox today and from what I can tell, it also comes with a second disc which contains ALL of the band’s early material completely remastered from the original masters in a supplementary album called Premature Necropsy. If you’re a fan of early era Carcass, General Surgery, Pathologist, Necrony, Dead, Cock And Ball Torture and others, then this is going to be right up your alley. To be honest, the disc sounds more like brutal death metal than anything else and it really makes me question the term “grindcore.” If this is grindcore when it first began, than what in the literal hell is brutal death metal? It seems that our genre classifications are starting to eat themselves alive and with the rebirth of progenitors like this, it’ll literally rewrite the way we approach heavy metal period. Perhaps the old heads are right and maybe we are starting to sound more like a Starbucks and less like metalheads. Every single track on this fucking album delivers by the way, just like you’d expect it to. The vocals alternate between a devilishly thick growl and chaotic scream, as the drums pound relentlessly and the guitars control of all the thunder for the performance. There are even some awesome guitar solos being let loose on the record, as the gore soaked and ultimately welcome approach blows right through your speakers. I’m quite certain that there are dead men who passed before the record was made and would love to get their hands on it, so one would hope that they don’t rise from their graves in order to get a taste of what was undoubtedly an integral death metal band two decades ago. If you’re looking for a taste of gore labeled grindcore, than that’s exactly what you’re getting here. Don’t come to Putrid Offal expecting grind you’re familiar with, because that’s just not what they do here. From the sounds of this record, they’re definitely the masters and can even show some of these death metal maniacs a thing or two. I’ve never heard vocal utterances sound quite so ghastly as they do here. It might be a familiar approach to fans of gore, but I’m sure that those bands the gore listener is currently digging wouldn’t even exist if not for the work of these guys. How in the hell this got the hardcore tag even surprises me more, making me feel that we’ve perhaps overstepped our boundaries in calling a lizard and a lizard and a bird a bird. Because quite clearly, this lizard in not the bird we’ve been itemizing it as and it takes only history to notice that. If you need more proof of this, then check out the supplementary album and hear the band’s classic work for yourself. They were still called grindcore back then too. Putrid Offal will not only make you reanalyze your thinking, they will also reorganize your brain matter as well as some of your organs along the way. Mature Necropsy is definitely the kind of death metal record that you’ll expect it to be by name and album artwork, but it might be in a weird spot in your local record retailer. In any case, it’s a disc that I’ve already jammed three times in a row, so you’ll definitely want to get your blood-drenched hands on it. Putrid Offal are an essential death metal band and this is an essential death metal album… just remember that it’s called grindcore, alright?
(13 Tracks, 29:00)