Album Thoughts | Archgoat: The Luciferian Crown

You probably hear a lot about War Metal these days if you’re on the Extreme Metal section of social media. I don’t want to call it a “trend”, because that would be a bit of a stretch, but it has been getting a lot of buzz lately, especially with newer bands lighting up the genre like a nuclear holocaust. Bands like Antichrist Siege Machine, Ride for Revenge, Tetragrammacide, Nyogthaeblisz and others have sort of revitalized things for the genre in recent years and made it even more dissonant and punishing than usual, with the addition of Noise to the mix. We have the more classic names mentioned a lot now too, like Blasphemy, Revenge, Black Witchery and so on, but these newer acts are getting some shine lately and it’s good to see, because I do like all of them. This review isn’t about them, however; I’m just pointing out the obvious. This review is for the latest offering by one of the hardest hitters of them all, who pack just as devastating of a punch now as they always have! This is the new album by the mighty Archgoat, and it’s another fucking ripper of absolutely ruinous proportions.

The Luciferian Crown is the 4th full-length album by the Finnish war blasphemers, and it’s already gotten a hell of a reception, which after hearing it myself, is definitely the right one. This is Archgoat at their absolute most violent and destructive, bearing their signature brand of filthy and chaotic Blackened Death Metal with thick, nasty guitars that sound like the audio equivalents to spiked bats beating you into bloody mush, equally thick, head-bashing drums that belt out those signature paced but crushing blast-beats that make the band’s sound so recognizable and topping off the madness, is the sickening growls of Lord Angelslayer, that still sound as vile and snarly as ever. The only difference I can find between this album and the last 3, is the production, which isn’t necessarily clean, per se, just a bit different, but it works. Archgoat remain one of the more consistent bands in Extreme Metal, who know how to keep things fresh while making their sound nastier and more punishing with each passing release. This album is nothing short of another example of that.

After a brief intro, Jesus Christ, Father of Lies wastes no time in blasting out at you with vicious force, with said blast-beats and blistering chords, while the snarls seep over them. It begins beating your ear-cells into submission right from the jump and gives no fucks in doing so. A ton of sweet riffs are present as well. There was always something particularly harsh and barbaric about Archgoat’s sound, that makes them stand out, even in a sub-genre as saturated (at one point, at least) as War Metal. They have this certain feel of evil and malice to them, that creates the apocalyptic vibe that surrounds their sound; their production has always helped with that too, especially on their first 2 albums. Back to this album, Jezebels Black Mass Orgy continues the barbaric assault and doesn’t let up from the previous one, aside from a new set of hellish riffs. Then comes Messiah of Pigs, which you may want to skip the intro of if you’re a vegan, especially the annoying kind; another savage brute of a track where Angelslayer’s growls particularly shine through. The guy sounds extra fucking demented on this album and I love it.

There are also tracks that take things in a Thrashier direction, like Darkness Has Returned and Star of Darkness and Abyss, which has somewhat of a Destroyer 666 feel to it, which I dig. Both good tracks that’ll make your head bop, whether it wants to or not. Then there’s The Obsidian Flame (from My Depths), in which the intro alone will melt your face allover your clothes; one of the few tracks that slows things down a bit but still keeps that punch packed and lethal. Same goes for the title track. Another standout is the chaotic, rumbling closer, I Am Lucifer’s Temple. It’s always good when the closing track stands out and ends an album on a memorable note. It’s a paced and pretty groovy track, the ripping chords are protruded one last time, but much slower and an odd bass riff hovers throughout it. The vocals also reach a new height of ugliness for the last track. Again, it ends on a memorable note.

So, needless to say, Archgoat once again did not disappoint. They bring pure bestial savagery to the table like no other in their genre. Whether you want to call it War Metal or Blackened Death Metal (potato, potaato), is your choice, but the ruthlessness and evil that they bring to it is unmatched, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve been a fan of these guys for well over a decade now, and the fact that they’ve been around for well over 2, and are still putting out quality, head-smashing jams says it all. I was in full anticipation mode from the moment this album was announced and to say it was worth the wait would be an understatement. Another job well done by one of Extreme Metal’s most revered veterans. Hail to the fucking goat!

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Album Thoughts | Pig Destroyer: Head Cage

“Why would God create something so weak, unless he wanted it to suffer?”

If you know me at all, it’s no secret, that I fucking LOVE Pig Destroyer. They’ve been a favorite of mine in the Grindcore department since Prowler in the Yard, and solidified their position at the top of my list with Terrifyer. To me, those 2 albums not only serve to this day, as Pig Destroyer’s best work (to me and many others), but 2 of the best albums to grace the genre of Grindcore as a whole. From the first time I was absolutely fucking annihilated by the impossibly fast and ferocious brand of flesh-ripping Grind of both of those albums, I was pretty much hooked for life, not just because of the music itself, but for the concept behind them; especially Terrifyer, if you read through it’s lyrics and immerse yourself in the sick story that it tells. Just for that alone, they both remain go-to albums for me, whenever I’m in a Grindy mood. Fast-forward a few years, they’ve put out a few more bangers, that are all good, but just don’t hold up with the previous 2.

Phantom Limb and Book Burner are both exceptional outings of hard, fast and ruthless Grind with more twisted stories within them, but the sonic ruthlessness that Prowler and Terrifyer had just couldn’t be recreated. The same goes for the smaller releases put out around this time, like Mass and Volume, which saw them pull an Agoraphobic Nosebleed and try their hand at Sludge (which they did a fine job at, if you ask me) and the Adult Swim single, The Octagonal Stairway. I still enjoy them and still consider PD one of my top Grind acts, even now, but it seems like their peak is behind them. There’s no nicer way to say it. So, now it’s 2018, and when Head Cage was announced, I was excited, but I still knew what to expect… so I thought. Then came the first single, Army of Cops, which on first listen, my eyebrow raised harder than The Rock’s in the Attitude Era. I didn’t necessarily hate it, but it just didn’t sound like Pig Destroyer. It was just very decent Groove Metal with 2000s Metalcore-ish riffs and worn-out vocals. Oh boy. So, going into this, I knew I had to try my best to keep an open mind and not set my expectations too high.

I don’t listen to any other new tracks that are put out, aside from the first one, until I hear a new album in full, because much like movies and wrestling, I don’t like too many spoilers before hearing it. So, I went into the rest of this one blind. The overall reaction to this album was pretty polarized, with many hating it, and others liking it and ragging on those hating it. It was pretty split down the middle, which had me leaning towards the more negative side after hearing that first track. So, going into this one was going to be interesting for sure; in all honesty though, while i’ll definitely say that it isn’t the best you’ll ever hear from these guys, they got me! It really isn’t too bad. Short story short, it started off strong with Dark Train, which resembles their usual style of fast, grindy fury, but with a few extra nuances, like those riffs that I mentioned earlier, which aren’t as bad as I initially thought and add a bit more of a personality to the sound. Then comes Army of Cops, which I heard a number of times by now, but grew on me quite a bit; it’s a groovy and aggressive banger with some catchy riffs to it, and also features my favorite lyric of the album, which is quoted up top.

Now that the track I already knew of is out of the way, the slippery slope then begins with Circle River, which is another good one, filled with catchy riffs and gnarly grooves; not too different from it’s predecessor. The Torture Fields brings back the grind, mixing in more blasting drums and faster riffs, but still maintains the grooviness. Same goes for Terminal Itch, one of the most aggressive tracks of the bunch, keeping the grindiness alive within the Pig Destroyer sound and not letting it be totally washed out of it (not yet at least); just a continuous barrage of blast-beats and ferocious riffs and chords, as JR Hayes’ raspy yells sear over them. Occasional breaks in the ferocity occur that reverts things back to the groovy side of things, but it’s done well and transitions smoothly. Then comes probably my favorite track, Concrete Beast; the most aggressive track of the groove-oriented ones. The guitars become even more monstrous and beat you down even more severely than they did on the previous 6 tracks, and somehow keep the riffs catchy in the sea of aural harshness that surrounds it. Great track!

I’m not going to babble about every track, but you pretty much get the idea by now. Overall, I dug this. Groove Metal isn’t my usual bag, aside from some of the older names like Exhorder, Life of Agony, Biohazard, Merauder, (newer) Harm’s Way, (some) Pantera, etc. This isn’t quite up there with those, but it’s good enough for what it is. It DEFINITELY isn’t the strongest Pig Destroyer release by any means, but it is the most unique and instrumentally savvy. The riffs are a little Metalcore-ish, but well done, JR’s voice is a little shot, but works for this style and the overall sound has enough of an aggressive edge to it that makes it work. I’m not one of these people who hates when a band overhauls their style, as long as it’s good. This won’t go down as my favorite PD album, but I enjoyed this WAY more than I expected to, so it is what it is. If anything, the biggest gripe I have with this, is the cover art, how the band’s logo is covered by the design. Not a fan of that at all. It reminds me of those magazine covers where whoever’s on the cover blocks the logo; that just annoys me. BUT, again, it is what it is.

So, short story short, this is a pretty good album and if you’re into Groove Metal or Hardcore, you should give it a listen. If you prefer the more Grindy Pig Destroyer, there is some of that on here too, but it isn’t going to be your favorite, nor anywhere near it. When it comes to that, Prowler and Terrifyer still reign supreme! But when it comes to this, it could have been worse, but it was pulled off and pulled off well.

Album Thoughts | Ævangelist: Heralds of Nightmare Descending

I talk about a lot of bands who create some fucked up shit. I won’t spout off all their names again, because you already know who they are. There are bands in the underground who know how to invoke your deepest and most negative of emotions with ease, with the sounds they purvey. These bands are few and far between and you’ve probably heard of most of, if not, all of them. Think what you will about those bands and what a fucked up experience it is to listen to them, and you’re probably right, but you don’t know the meaning of true, arcane, audio esoterica, until you’ve heard Ævangelist.

Starting out as a one-man act, that later grew into a due with the addition of Matron Thorn, madman behind the great Benighted in Sodom, Ævangelist is a band known to play a form of Blackened Death Metal that continuously pushes the boundaries of how fucked up and unsettling the genre can sound, by dragging it down to deeper and deeper levels of sonic depravity and hellish levels of nightmarish dissonance. I was first exposed to the madness that is Ævangelist back in 2014; hearing Writhes in the Murk for the first time filled me with a sense of dread at a level I’ve at the time, only felt hearing a Gnaw Their Tongues album. The eerily cavernous production, the unsettling atmosphere that it gave off and just everything else it did was just a continuous spiral of audio nightmare-fuel in Blackened Death Metal form. In other words, I instantly fell in love with it and wanted more! That led me to 2012’s De Masticatione Mortuorum in Tumulis and 2013’s Omen ex Simulacra which both had the same impact. This act would soon become one of my top names within the Blackened Death genre. Then came Enthrall to the Void of Bliss in 2015, which further solidified that.

3 years after that last horrific masterpiece, a new full-length has finally been announced for November in Matricide in the Temple of Omega, which already had my excitement… then, out of nowhere, came this! As it turns out, we’re getting 2 new full-lengths by the duo, starting with this surprise audio abyss of terror! Heralds of Nightmare Descending is the 5th album, and there’s still no letting up in psychologically terrorizing you with cavernous whirlwinds of weird riffs, uncanny melodies, spiraling out like a tornado of screaming dead souls blasting out of the lowest sect of Hell, muffled, paced drums and dismal growls lurking within the fog of sound that surrounds it all, with occasional shrieks and manic chants accompanying them. Ævangelist is one of those bands who I never know what to expect to hear from, before I hit play for the first time. They’re sound is so terrifyingly unpredictable that you can get something different with each release, and you’ll probably always hear something different every time you listen to an individual release. That’s the level of morbid creativity these two possess. You can also hear a lot of Benighted in Sodom influence on this one as well. Matron’s input is very noticeable.

Starting off with the title track, you can immediately hear Matron Thorn’s signature sound seep through, with his familiar harmonic drawl, searing through the intro, which is then overtaken by that ungodly abyssal atmosphere that this band is known for and is so good at purveying. The foggy guitars and muddy drums then kick in, as well as the dismal bellows of Ascaris. The opener is just a scathing barrage of said odd riffs and eerie melodies, set to tortured shrieks and howls, coupled with incomprehensible bellowing; and this is probably the most sane track of the bunch. Deluge follows and isn’t much different, but just as effective and nerve-racking. Resurrection of the Godhead Sinister ups the aggression a bit more with more hostile chords, as an eerie ambiance flows in the background like scenery to the madness. The vocals even become more bellicose as the album goes on. For some reason, the sound on this one reminds me of the latest Chaos Moon album (Eschaton Mémoire), only creepier and more raw and scattered. Not a bad thing, as I fucking love that album too!

Next comes Narcissus, where the melodies and synths become more catchy, while maintaining the chilling vibe of the music as a whole. This is definitely the most cavernous and raw that Ævangelist has ever gotten, at least to me, even more so than the early material. It’s sort of like if Impetuous Ritual and Deathspell Omega their own little hellspawn. Although out of the three names, Ævangelist is easily the best at setting an atmosphere so unsettling that it brings your paranoia and dread to light. Another thing I like about this album, is that it has a flow to it between tracks. Each track spills right into the next one and acts as one big nightmarish journey of a listen. Not the first time this has been done, but it’s done very well and blended together smoothly. Anyway, closing out the ordeal, is Arcane Flesh Revelation; 18 more minutes of psychotic mastery. It’s the slowest of the 5 tracks, which gives it plenty of room to fit all of the hideous nuances of Blackened Death horror that makes the band what it is. There’s too much to it to go into detail, but it’s a great closer that makes you suffer one good last time before it removes it’s deadly clutches from your throat and leaves you laying (for now).

If I seem a bit jumbled here, my apologies. Ævangelist is just such an enigma of sound and style, that I don’t even know where to even begin sometimes when describing it. It’s an entity all on it’s own and it stands out more than any other band of it’s kind, even in it’s own category of envelope-pushing insanity. Ascaris was already belting out some uniquely terrifying stuff from the beginning, but Matron Thorn adds a whole new dimension of depravity to it; again, his own input is very noticeable. This is overall another harrowing mind-fuck of a listen, created by these two, and to top it off, they’re not even done yet! There’s another album in the works, set for release this November, and you can bet your feeble little ass that it’ll be reviewed. For now, give this beast your time and let it destroy your senses and makes your wildest imaginations run rampant. When it comes to acts who can pull off stuff like this, they’re few and far between and it’s always a spectacle when they put something out into the stratosphere for those who are exposed to it to suffer to. It’s another great effort by one of Blackened Death Metal’s best and most unique entities. Not for the feeble of weak-hearted.

Album Thoughts | Thou: Magus (Plus Quick Thoughts on the EPs)

It’s always great when a band you consider a favorite of a certain genre returns with a fucking banger. It’s even greater when it’s 4 bangers over the course of a few months. I thought about it for a bit and I’ve decided, fuck it! Why not just compile each of these releases in one post and knock it out that way? Works for me! So, after my review of Thou’s latest full-length masterpiece, scroll down and get my quick thoughts on the 3 EPs that accompanied it this year as well! I guess you can call it a bonus, but fuck me, I had to include them. All 4 of these releases encompass Thou as the absolute best and most creative I’ve hear them yet! So, i’d be remiss if I didn’t cover them all.

So, like I said, Thou have been a favorite of mine for a good number of years now, when it comes to Sludge. I’ve always regarded them as one of, if not the meanest, foulest and most crushing band within the genre. Hailing from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, they started out as a nasty, filthy and grime-drenched Sludge Doom act, akin to the likes of Eyehategod and Crowbar, but later evolved into something of their own, as they gradually added more and more intricate elements to their sound and collaborated with fellow Sludge/Drone act, The Body on a couple of occasions… and also did a bunch of Nirvana covers. Lots of them, all fucking excellent! All the way up to their last ripper of an album, Heathen, they’ve carved quite a path for themselves and reached a pretty significant status in the underground. After a 4-year wait, upon hearing of their return, I was excited and curious to see what they had up their sleeve this time around. I knew I could trust them in putting out something great, and I was once again right, but I wan’t ready for what I actually got. Good lord.

Magus is an album that further solidifies Thou’s stance as my top Sludge act, not only for it’s sonic delivery, but the band’s stylistic progression. It still maintains it’s core essence of thick, crushing Sludgy Doom, but implements a multitude of different elements within it’s sound and adds layers to it that give it a whole new dimension of dynamic to it. This album is basically a mix of Sludge, Doom, Post-Metal, Black Metal, some Shoegaze, Ambient and whatever else that I missed. It’s a very outside-the-box blend of sounds, but they pull it off splendidly! The 3 EPs that accompanied this album are all different in style; each one representing one of the elements present on this album. The album is basically a culminating of that. The length of the album (clocking in at an hour and 15 minutes) is probably the only real gripe I have with it. Like I’ve said on here in the past, no matter how good an album is, if it’s too long, it’ll get tiring and overstay it’s welcome. I tried to avoid that best I could by not listening to this one in one long sitting, but good lord, it was just too good to pause. But I did and I paced my listen, so it remained enjoyable all the way through.

Now on to the music. From the beginning, as Inward kicks in and starts things off, I was immediately taken back by the pounding delivery of the drums and chords, coupled with the slow, Post-ish riffs that flow over it. Bryan Funck’s vocals have become more shrieky and manic as well. It’s an excellent, 10-minute opener that keeps itself interesting throughout it’s running time with those vibrant riffs and it’s slow, crushing fury; just pure Doom at it’s finest. Following that long epic, we get a short, somewhat prelude in My Brother Caliban, which is a minute long barrage of distorted blast-beats with muffled shrieks and early 90s Black Metal-style power chords, which leaks right into the intro of the very Stoner-esque Transcending Dualities. Another heavy, Doomy smasher, with a Stoner Doom-like cadence to it that reminds me of some of the works of Bongzilla or Church of Misery. A lot of great riffs in it too! The Changeling Prince is one of the shorter ones, but also a fucking ripper of a track; just as heavy and riff-fuled as it’s predecessors.

We then get another lengthy one in Sovereign Self, which opens with a passage of soft, picked melodies, coupled with somber clean vocals, via Emily McWilliams, then dives right back into the slow, crushing Doom that dominates the album’s sound. This is where the length of the album starts coming into play and taking it’s toll attention-wise. Again, as long as you pace your listen, you’ll be fine. Then comes another prelude in the Shoegazy Divine Will, where Mcwilliams lends her voice again over a patterned, ritualistic drum beat. In the Kingdom of Meaning follows that one with another Post-Rock-like intro of slow, dreary picking, that leads right into another array of smashing drums, chunky guitars and manic shrieks. This one gave me some Black Boned Angel vibes for some reason; not a bad thing! Invocation of Disgust follows and reminds me of early Yob and Grief, with it’s super Sludgy and Drone-esque delivery; another shorter track, but real good one!

The same description applies for Elmination Rhetoric. Very Sludgy and Drony with an intensely angry delivery. Another track that stays below the 10 minute mark and keeps it’s message short and sweet; the dreary, Shoegazy riffs shine through again on this track. We get one more prelude with The Law Which Compels, where a slight hint of Noise is implemented and the ritualistic drum patterns under cavernous shrieks return, then leads right into the soul-shatteringly epic closer, Supremacy. This track serves as the grand finale to the entire 3 EP and LP package deal, where each element used is accentuated one last time as sort of an aural clashing or eruption. The crushing Doom, dreary Post-Metal, Shoegaze, Ambiance, etc all comes to light one last time in the form of this monstrous 10-minute composition. Very emotional and exhilarating closer that winds things down in the most dramatic and hypnotic way possible. Fucking brilliant stuff!

When a review turns out to be this long, you know it was a fucking winner. It means that I had enough to say about it and I feel like my time isn’t being wasted in talking about it, nor was it wasted listening to it. This is a fucking masterpiece, not only a Sludge masterpiece or a Doom masterpiece, but an Extreme Metal masterpiece. I don’t mean to sound too dramatic, but it’s the 100% truth. I can’t shower this album with enough praise, and considering all that these guys have given us this year alone, I can’t praise them enough either. So, needless to say, this album is recommended to anyone and everyone who’s into Sludge, Doom Metal or anything else. It’s more than worth at least a try. One of the undisputed best acts in the entire genres of Sludge and Doom Metal have proven that they are so yet again. This is no Hipster trash, just pure, passionate and damn near perfect slow, aural mastery.

Now, on to the EPs.

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So, as we all know, over the last few months, we also got 3 solid EPs in conjunction with Magus, that explore the different elements and styles that we hear mixed in with each other on the album. Each style is presented individually on each EP and it’s all done just as well as it is on said album. This review is long enough and was enough of a pain in the ass to write, so let’s just get right into them. I don’t want to make this too much of a fucking manifesto for you to read through.

My quick thoughts on all 3 EPs…

The House Primordial

The first of the series, released in May through Robotic Empire, The House Primordial is the first major hit of experimentation with an individual sound, that would later culminate on Magus. This EP follows the normal Thou style, but in a much more noisy and drony way than usual. I’d much sooner describe this as Industrial Drone than I would Sludge. It’s super slow, drawn out, dissonant and spiteful in delivery; reminds me of Khanate and The Body in a way, which makes sense, considering they collaborated with The Body multiple times. It’s very ugly, very nasty and very interesting all around and further showcases the band’s ability to switch hats at the drop of a dime. This is harsh, hateful Drone at it’s (un)finest and only a prelude to what was to come. Great stuff!

Inconsolable

Next, also released in May, independently this time and probably the biggest shocker of the bunch, Inconsolable is another drastic hat-switch in style, this time in the direction of a Grungy Post-Rock sound. Yes, you read that right. This isn’t all THAT surprising, knowing the affinity the band seems to have for Nirvana, but it’s still very weird, but pretty awesome to hear them take things in a completely new direction and showcase what they’re really capable of. The instruments on this are absolutely beautiful-sounding and ring precious melodies all throughout this 8-track batch. Emily McWilliams returns here as well, lending her eerily angelic voice on The Hammer and Into the Scourge Pit. This is just an incredibly haunting hybrid of Post-Rock and Grunge that brings acts like Emma Ruth Rundle and Glaare to mind. It’s so well put together and beautifully crafted, I can’t do it enough justice in one paragraph, so give it a listen for yourself! Out of all these EPs, this is the one I’d recommend the most. Just dreary, haunting and vibrant aural mastery from front to back!

Rhea Sylvia

Finally, via Deathwish Inc., comes Rhea Sylvia; the final piece of the puzzle that would result in the incredible album I just reviewed. This EP brings things back to the core Thou style, but again, in a very different fashion. For this, the Sludgy, Doomy heaviness is back, but a heavy element of dreary clean vocals and more Post-ish riffs and melodies are implemented into the sound and blended into the heaviness. Definitely sounds like something that bands on the more melodic side of Sludge, like Oathbreaker (pre-Rheia), The Lion’s Daughter or even the almighty Acid Bath would do. Both super heavy and hauntingly melodic, this is another masterfully crafted contrast of styles that are carefully blended and utilized to the full potential of those who hold the instruments. Great stuff and another example of how sonically versatile this band has become. I don’t always gravitate towards melodic stuff, but this is a top exception for sure.

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That’s all, fucks. So, needless to say, the mighty Thou have worked their Louisianan asses off this year and gave us a shit ton of material to consume. This band deserves all of the support they can muster. They’ve really grown as a band and as artists and I can only hope that they continue to get better from here. They haven’t let me down yet and I feel like it’ll be a while before they do. So, one last time, well done, Thou! Your hard work will not go unspoken. Well fucking done!

Album Thoughts | Jesus Piece: Only Self

Well, it’s been a hot minute since anything under the Hardcore banner was covered here on the blog. Aside from a few really good underground outings that I talked about briefly in one of my recent Quick Album Thoughts posts, nothing since Harm’s Way’s Posthuman has really caught my eye; that is until Philadelphia, PA’s Jesus Piece came along and injected some life back into the scene and rocked some skulls with their new LP. Only Self is their debut full-length and although I’ve known about these guys for a while now, it kinda came out of nowhere for me, as I didn’t really know of it’s release until recently. It was a pleasant surprise to stumble upon and was also a pretty damn solid listen overall. This is the cleaner and louder style of Hardcore, as opposed to the dirty, rotted stuff that I’ve talked about recently, but it’s also the pissed off, violent and deafening style that has no other purpose than to mercilessly beat you and your eardrums down into the dirt without hesitation. It has no problem doing so either.

If you’re into the crushing, hard-hitting and knuckle-punching style of Knocked Loose, Harm’s Way or Code Orange before they became arrogant Nu-Metal asshats, then this is right up your cold, dark alley; it’s the same chugging, occasionally blasting, borderline-Beatdown Hardcore that said bands are known for and they do it pretty damn well and their sound more than serves it’s purpose. Starting right off the bat with Lucid, an eruption of chugging chords and ridiculously thick and crushing drums explode around you like a fucking bomb going off and Aaron Heard’s bellowing roars sear through it like a hurricane that immediately follows said bombing. If you understand this kind of stuff, you know you can’t expect anything fancy or too riffy; if you’re into this sect of Hardcore, just sit back, relax and let it beat you into oblivion. Workhorse slows nothing down as it continues the beating with continuously flowing chords, coupled with the same boulder-like drums that bludgeon you like a brick to the head by a jilted ex-lover. Punish does pretty much the same.

Curse of the Serpent is a particularly brutal track, which is faster in pace than usual and has an even more aggressive cadence than the rest of them. It even has a bit of a Thrash element to it; great track! In the Silence is one of the more toned down and unconventional tracks, baring a sound close to Sludge with a slow, rumbling, double-bass assault, in-between ambient passages with the roaring chants in the background. Pretty weird but very good, perhaps the most unique of the bunch. Adamant picks the pace right the fuck back up and resumes the blistering, violent sound that dominates the album, Neuroprison brings back the Thrashy element and adds more blast-beats to the fold; this is the first track I heard, prior to hearing the album, which got me excited to hear the rest of it. The guitar tone is what really makes this album’s sound for me; it’s so harsh and grimy that it fits the knuckle punching Hardcore sound perfectly. The production plays a role in how enjoyable I find this album too.

Things start winding down as Dog No Longer supplies once last vicious beating of a track, filled with ripping chords and blasting snares that would probably crush you to death if they were an actual physical object. Things end with the 2-parter, simply titled I and II. I is a short, ambient prelude that leads right into II, a slow, dragging, cavernous crusher of a closer, with a single drawn out chord, slow, wailing keyboards and dueling growls and chanty singing flowing through it. It almost has a Funeral Doom sound to it. Very weird for a band like this, but pretty out there and intriguing. I know how generic and run of the mill Hardcore can get, especially stuff of this stature, but it’s cool when a band can get creative and slip in a nice little gem every now and them that completely catches you off guard.

After a few stale months, it’s good to see some more solid Hardcore come through and deliver. I remember not thinking too much of these guys after hearing their self-titled EP; I thought it was decent, but not all that impactful, but they really stepped it up with this one. This is sonic fury at it’s highest volume, that doesn’t cater to any trends or tropes that gets shit thrown on the genre to begin with. It follows a simple formula, but is it’s own thing at once, much like the latest Harm’s Way or Code Orange’s I Am King was. It’s nothing too new or innovative, but it’s passionate, angry and forces it’s message across, whether it registers with you or not. I know Hardcore isn’t exactly what appeals to most who read this blog, but fuck it, I enjoyed this one and highly recommend it to anyone open-minded enough to give it a shot. It’ll at least make a fine addition to your gym playlist, if nothing else! If it doesn’t fill you with enough energy and drive to deadlift an 18-wheeler, then you’ll know for sure that it isn’t for you.

Album Thoughts | Skognatt: Ancient Wisdom

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about any Atmospheric Black Metal; at least in full review form, simply because not much of it has caught my eye lately. As the months pass and my attention has been drawn to the more raw and Vampyric sect of the genre, hence my gushing over the latest releases by Akasha, Fless and Lampir, I figured it was time to see what this side of the cold, grim tracks has to offer in 2018. Still, not much has grabbed my attention, aside from the new Urfaust album (which I know I’m late on), but it wasn’t the only one; this album right here, is also worth talking about. It’s rare these days that something I just cross paths with blindsides me with what it can do. The album in question here is a perfect fucking example of that and this review is going to be laced in my praise. As corny as that may sound, It’s true, because this is what Atmospheric Black Metal should offer, and this is an album that exhibits those traits in the smoothest and most intricate way possible. Holy fuck, this is excellent!

Skognatt is a one-man project from Germany and this is his debut full-length album. I gave this one a curious listen and it actually caught me off guard with how good it turned out to be. It’s just slow, dreary Black Metal, drenched in atmosphere and full of gripping riffs and melodies, as well as other elements like keyboards and synths, that all flows together wonderfully and makes for something very intriguing, which I honestly haven’t heard in Atmospheric Black Metal since Agalloch’s The Mantle. Ancient Wisdom, for as short of an album as it is, is a pretty vibrant journey of a listen. Starting off with the title track, which opens up with a lovely intro of slow, somber melodic picking and then suddenly jumps into an array of sharp chords and dreary melodies in the background, as snarling shrieks also kick in. The flowing melodies and slow, sharp chords blend together like a painting, as the vocals flow over it equally as smoothly.

Then comes Xibalbá, another slow, dragging track that’s just as loaded with dreary riffs and catchy melodies that glide through the foggy ambiance that serves as the background of this audio painting that it creates. Worlds Apart comes next and opens with perhaps my favorite main riff that I’ve heard all year, then morphs into a fast, scathing composition of foggy blast-beats and more of those searing melodies and tremolo riffs that glide through it like a steady stream of sound. Thanatos continues the pattern of ashen chaos by continuing the slow pace and ringing in more melodic doom and gloom. Each track has it’s own unique set of melodies and riffs and they somehow get better as the album goes on. It’s honestly refreshing to hear from a genre that I’ve sort of been on a dry spell with in recent months. I can’t express enough how impressed I am with this one!

The most aggressive track on this album is Dark Star. It’s fast, blasty and harsh, all the while expressing the same melodic style at it’s core. Great track that shows a great deal of dynamic. Things then wrap up with the 2-part track, Fallen + Outro, which paces things up again, but winds the album down splendidly with one last burst of somber melodic chaos, and ends it with an equally somber outro. Great stuff! Not sure what else there is to say, but I think I’ve said enough of what I needed to. You need to hear it for yourselves to get a full grasp of what it has to offer and how well it’s done. It’s a perfectly blended mix of dreary, vibrant and dark and heavy and it’s put together like the Black Metal equivalent of a Bob Ross painting. I won’t gush on it too much, so just give it a listen for yourselves. If you’re an Atmospheric Black Metal fan, definitely take my word for it and don’t miss out! It’s worth every second of your time.

Album Thoughts | Mascharat: S/T

I talk about a lot of countries when it comes to Black Metal. We all know which ones are breeding the best stuff coming out today and I’ve mentioned them ad nauseam, so if I repeat them now, I’ll sound like a fucking broken record. One country I don’t mention much is Italy; not for any other reason, than there are very few that I can name (at least off the top of my head) that have really caught my interest. The only 2 that really come to mind are Forgotten Tomb and Melencholia Estatica. Well, after much consideration, Mascharat is the latest name to add to the list of bands to check out from the land of pasta and meatballs. This is the debut full-length by these Italian sickos and It’s a very nasty and scathing style of Black Metal that’ll probably please old and new fans alike, depending on how open you are about production. It’s textbook style Black Metal, but amped up in nastiness and filth, with decent production that doesn’t hinder it too much.

From the very start of Bauta, following a brief intro, the blast-beats and sharp tremolo-picking, coupled with super harsh shrieks, blast out at you with no wasted motion, as it showers it’s bleak, rotten storm of sound upon you; great opener that sets the tone for what’s to come. Things slow up a bit with Médecin de Peste, which is more paced and methodical, adding some dynamic to the chaos. Same can be said for Simulacri and Iniziazione. Any band who’s able to work with what they have and create a solid dynamic out of such a simple style is a plus in my book, and these guys honestly do it well. Then there’s Mora, which opens with a slow, somber picking passage, then dives right into another assault of blasting drums and more drawn-out trem picking. It keeps the faster and more strident side of things alive. Iniziazione actually reminds me a bit of Enslaved; particularly Isa era. Just something about that track sounds like something they would do a that time. Very good track that actually made me revisit Enslaved for the first time in a while.

In-between all of this madness, we have a couple of instrumentals; the best one being Vestibolo; a very somber and calming interlude, comprised of slow, dreary picking and droning keyboards in the background. Simple but effective. Immediately following is Simulacri, just a straight up instrumental of what this album has already given you, sans shrieks. The outro is well done too, just another somber composition of piano and keyboards. Rito is another aggressive one that has some very interesting and catchy riffs, with a pretty vicious delivery to it; definitely one of my favorite tracks of the batch. This album sort of reminds me of the last one by Ересь, who really opened me up to the Russian Black Metal scene and made me explore stuff from over there (which led me to a good amount of quality stuff). I feel like I should do the same for Italy as well.

I’m not going to ramble too much here, but this is overall a very well put-together and enjoyable Black Metal album by a very promising young act. This is pretty standard stuff, but still very nasty, vicious and piercing in every area and it uses all of it’s elements to the fullest. There’s also something to be said when a band from a country that I haven’t heard much from, motivates me to explore it more, so points to them for that too! I’ll be checking out more Black Metal Italiano when I have the time. Overall, I dug this one and you should give it a shot too. It’s pretty modern in sound, but has enough darkness and filth to it to entice a lot of traditional fans as well, as long as you’re looking for such and nothing too experimental or out there. Some may be put off by the production, but to me, it does a good enough job on it’s own and brings the filth and fury well enough. So, give this a shot and decide for yourself. I’ll be scouting Italy for more quality Blackened filth very soon. Mascharat has given me a great start!