Album Thoughts | Loss: Horizonless

To wrap up this weekend’s batch of new albums, it’s time for some long-awaited, much anticipated, quality DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM.

The last time we heard from Nashville, Tennessee’s Loss was a whopping 6 years ago with their 2011 debut Despond; a crushing, sorrowful, brutally ugly journey of an album that earned them quite a following and a huge amount of praise among the Funeral Doom and Black Metal (mostly) community for the years to follow leading up to this one. Pretty impressive for a band with only 1 full-length release and such a long period of time before releasing another one and not much else in the meantime other than a couple small splits. Especially considering how much anticipation this album was met with upon it’s announcement. This album was on a lot of people’s most anticipated list for 2017, mine included, and tonight I finally got my ears on it… and Sweet Unholy Mother of Doom, it did not disappoint.

This is another masterful serving of miserable, forlorn and beautifully crushing Blackened Funeral Death Doom, complete with melancholic riffs radiating from super thick and crunchy guitars, slow, bassy, pounding drums and versatile vocals ranging from growls, shrieks, depressive, monotone clean singing and tortured shouts that sound like they’re coming straight from the throat of a body helmed by a constantly-suffering mind. This journey commences at the very beginning of the 10-minute opener The Joy of All Who Sorrow, which wastes little time grabbing you by the throat and assaulting you with it’s slow, pounding melancholic fury as frontman Mike Meacham sets the tone for whats to come as he unleashes his manic yelling to shrieking vocal style drenched in some of the most sorrowful riffs I’ve heard since early My Dying Bride (you knew a mention of them was coming, right?) and the crushing, dragging drums that I mentioned before. The rest of the album is no different, as other notable tracks like All Grows on TearsNaught, the title track and closer When Death is All follow the same pattern, but keep it interesting all throughout.

A lot of the riffs on this album harken back to the good old days of Death Doom and remind me of some of the greats of the genre. Many of the slow, dreary riffs remind me of early My Dying Bride; Turn Loose the Swans and The Angel and the Dark River era to be exact, and the closing riff of When Death is All reminds me a lot of Brave Murder Day and Sounds of Decay era Katatonia. Also a big plus! These are all just very well structured compositions of songs that may be similar, but are still different in their own way. You also get some weird, partially instrumental tracks like the eerie spoken-word I.O. and The End Steps Forth; a really creepy track with organs and distant, manic, echoy growls. This completes the package in making this a dreadful and terrifying journey of sorrow and grief. Just how Funeral Doom should be.

So, overall, this album was well worth the 6-year wait and absolutely delivers in all departments. This is a quality Doom Metal album that reminds me why it’s just under Black Metal as my favorite genre and one that, in order to get the full effect of, you just have to sit back, relax, put headphones on, and get lost in it as it makes you, as My Dying Bride’s last album states, feel the misery.

Until next time.

-Scvm

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Album Thoughts | Beastcraft: The Infernal Gospels of Primitive Devil Worship

Like many other offerings that have come out thus far in 2017, I was looking forward to this one from the moment I found out about it. The latest opus by Trve Norwegian Black Metallers Beastcraft is finally upon us and I finally got my first listen. Going into it I had hope, but I also had some doubt, as nowadays, with how Black Metal has evolved over the last 2 decades-plus, the straight-up, old school Black Metal style tends to go the generic route more often than not. There is, however, a reason for that. Most bands who play that style tend to make the mistake of using the same formula over and over again for each and every song and not adding any variety to the package. Well, with this album, allow Beastcraft to show you how it’s actually done.

This album is old school and straightforward, but it’s anything but boring. What Beastcraft does differently than most other acts of this variety is add some variety to the batch of songs. You have your more aggressive and riffier tracks like Demonic Perversion and The Fall of the Impotent God, which are complete with punky riffs, sharp, piercing guitar tones stabbing your ears blood red as Sorath finishes them off with his snarling Satanic shrieks. You have slower, more melodic tracks like Deathcraft and Necromancy, Reborn Beyond the Grave and closer The Beast Descends, that are more driven by slow, menacing tremolo picking and dragging drums. Then you have intense, blastbeat-laden rippers like Her Highness of Hell and The Devil’s Triumph. Songs that just want to rip your throat out in the name of the almighty Satan himself. Splendid. Each group of tracks have those different respective styles and they’re all very fucking well done.

It’s great to see that there still is some quality old school Trve Kvlt Norwegian Black Metal out there capable of effortlessly ravaging you from asshole to appetite (thanks, Jim Cornette) and keeping the essence alive and well, not even counting the new wave of super raw, filthy and dissonant Black Metal that exists nowadays. I love the more evolved stuff as much as the next fucking bloke, but sometimes all you need is something simple and straight to the point. That’s what this is. Beastcraft did not disappoint with this one and it was well worth the wait. No super complicated review needed for this one. It’s not fancy, it’s not technical, it’s surely nothing progressive or experimental, this is 100% unadulterated Black Fucking Metal and it’s sure to please fans of such. Give it a listen!

Until next time.

-Scvm

Album Thoughts | Hexis: Tando Ashanti

It’s been a while since I’ve had any new Blackened Hardcore to kill my ear cells with. Well, this changes that, and what an album to change it with. If you’re familiar with Denmark’s Hexis, you’re familiar with the style they bring to the table. It’s a very different take on Black Metal-infused Hardcore that bands like Young and in the Way, Trap Them, Sunlight’s Bane, ect. have brought to the forefront over the last good number of years. Aside from the usual marriage of the misanthropic inclination and riff style of Black Metal and the song structures and aesthetics of Chaotic Hardcore, Hexis takes it a step further and makes something already dark even darker by injecting a significant amount of almost Black Cilice-style atmosphere into the mix and let that do most of the talking. If you heard their last album Abalam, you know exactly what i’m talking about and already know what to expect from this one.

The atmospheric production adds a very ominous feel to their already chaotic sound that creates a very unique experience of a listen that may bring forth both exhilaration and a feeling of impending doom. Try to picture a band like Vastum or Bestia Arcana if they went the Hardcore route but kept the muddy, hazy atmospheric elements that make them stand out. That’s basically what this equates to. From the beginning of (partial) title track Ashanti (other title track being brief intro Tando), you’re thrown into an abyss of mid-paced, almost doomy, Altar of Plagues-like chaotic and unnerving song structures surrounded by a bleak and dismal atmosphere that keeps you entranced as it assaults you with said chaos of the music itself. It’s a weird but interesting balance of aggression and potency that only bands like this and the others mentioned can pull off.

The tracks themselves aren’t all that different, nor do they need to be. Again, similar to Black Cilice, the atmosphere does most of the work. The music itself consists of (mostly) menacing tremolo riffage, rumbling double bass drumming and abyssal shrieked vocals with the occasional slow, doomy moments like in Cordolium or the drony, sorts of prelude track Resurrection, which leads into one of the more unique, faster-paced tracks Septem. Those however, are the only tracks I can really call ‘unique’ for this album. The rest of the album follows the same formula of ominous, rumbling, tremolo-filled assaults on your senses while the trance-like atmosphere keeps you zoned in. It’s not the most adept method, but it is effective, as proven by these guys and Black Cilice and bands alike.

Overall, this album isn’t much different from Abalam, but it’s just as effective. Hexis take hatred-fuled, nihilistic Hardcore, give it a unique spin by giving it a dismal Atmospheric Black Metal seasoning and making it even more nihilistic, brooding and even more terrifying than it initially could have been. Even if Hardcore isn’t exactly your thing, if you’re a fan of bands like Black Cilice, Vastum, Impetuous Ritual, Bestia Arcana, Portal, Ævangelist and others of that sort, then I would definitely recommend this to you, as well as Abalam. I honestly would place Abalam a little bit above this one as the better one, but this one is surely no slouch. If you want your senses desecrated but looking for something a little more out there, by Metal AND Hardcore standards, give this one a shot! It’s worth it.

Until next time.

-Scvm

Album Thoughts | Young and in the Way: When Life Comes to Death (2014)

2014 was a year where two bands became favorites of mine. The first being Code Orange after hearing the monstrous I Am King, and then this band after hearing the absolutely ruthless eardrum obliterateor of an album that they unleashed onto the planet. That album is the one at hand here.

North Carolina’s Young and in the Way are a fairly young band who were initially known for their brand of Blackened Crust and chaotic Hardcore. Known for their EPs Amen, Cloven Hoof and V. Eternal Depression and their debut full-length I Am Not What I Am, these guys were becoming a force in the Hardcore and Crust scene. All those releases were very good in their own right and garnered them quite a following. Their latest album, however, is where their presence was really felt! If you want something fast, furious and completely devoid of fucks given about you or your senses, this is the album to give a listen to. The almighty WHEN LIFE COMES TO DEATH, as vocalist Kable Lyall has no problem shrieking in your ear at the very beginning.

This album is not a Blackened Hardcore album, or even a plain Crust album, it is a merciless 46-minute assault of blood drunk, filth-ridden and utterly ruthless Crust-driven Black Metal. A completely evolved incarnation of what this band was known as. Think Iskra tenfold. That’s the best way I can describe it. This album contains no frills, no pulled punches and certainly no happiness. From the scathing riffs of the title track that starts this album off and tracks like We are Nothing and Take My Hand to the blistering ferocity of Be My Blood and Weep in My Dust, YaitW have absolutely no shortage of attacks to throw at you from the second you press play to the last second of the abrasive 9-minute closer Embrace Extinction. These guys take Blackened Crust to an unprecedented new level of extreme and don’t shy the fuck away from the possibility of destroying the listener’s senses, one ear cell at a time.

The best way I can describe this album is a cross between say, Carpathian Forest and Trap Them. It’s a perfect converging of the two styles that will without doubt (and has) please fans of both Black Metal and Crusty Hardcore in their respective right. It captures the essence of both and strikes a really good middle ground between them. You can hear it on every track, including the ones mentioned above as well as others like Fuck This Life and Final Dose. I’ve never heard it done as well as it was done on this album and I can’t think of any other band who has pulled it off as well. Many have tried. This one is an anomaly all on it’s own.

So overall, there’s a reason this band is now one of my favorites and this album is one of my first three random reviews. It’s a perfect marriage of two of my go-to genres when i’m looking for something intense and angry. It’s one of the main albums that made 2014 such a great year musically and it would have been number 1 if not for Triptycon and Code Orange. Number 3 was good enough. Anyway, this is another amazing album by one of today’s finest and I can’t fucking wait for their next one. (This year please!!)

So, yeah. That concludes my first batch of random reviews for now. Definitely more to come in the near future. There are plenty I want to talk about. Plenty. So just stay tuned.

Until next time.

-Scvm

Album Thoughts | Code Orange: I Am King (2014)

When I first discovered Code Orange, they were Code Orange Kids; the brutally passionate, ridiculously abrasive and pissed the fuck off chaotic Hardcore band who had already unleashed three EPs, including the monstrous Cycles, a split with Full of Hell and a full-length album Love is Love // Return to Dust onto the world. I was a huge fan already then. Then, when September 2014 came along, they released their most unique, creative and out there release to date (until Forever this year). I Am King is an album that raised a lot of questions and a little bit of doubt with the slight name change and release of the title-track as it’s first single, for me included. It didn’t sound bad, just different from what we were used to from them. But when I finally got to listen to the album in it’s entirety, it would go on to become not only my favorite album of 2014, surpassing the likes of Triptykon’s Melana Chasmata and At the Gates’ At War With Reality, but one of my favorites period.

What makes this album so unique, much like Acid Bath’s When the Kite String Pops, is it’s blending of so many different elements from so many different genres. Looking for crushing chaotic Hardcore? This album has it in tracks such as the devastating Unclean Spirit, Your Body is Ready, the super vicious Bind You and album closer Mercy. You want thick, grimy Sludge? They have that as well with the title track, Slowburn, My World, Starve and Thinners of the Heard. Hell, if you even want some Shoegaze, that’s even present on here with Dreams in Inertia. You’ll even hear elements of Crust and Death Metal at times. You name it, it’s all here. They take bits and pieces of each of these styles and put them where they fit best and they combine them in such a unique and dark way that it creates something that can’t just be classified as a Hardcore album.

The core style that brought Code Orange Kids to the dance is still present for sure. The devastatingly vicious riffs, and multiple vocal assault between Reba, Jamie and Eric are still very much a thing here and are key components to the broader sound as well. Some may find it disappointing, but it’s not really that much different than the early works. It really wasn’t until Forever where they really started experimenting. In all honesty, I do like Forever, but this one is definitely the better of the two Code Orange (post-”Kids”) albums. The Industrial element that they would add in later kind of overshadows the overall sound and hinders it a little bit. I Am King is where the perfect balance between the old and newer sounds are met and it all just flows beautifully. The style that they create with all these elements combined is very cohesive and doesn’t go allover the place. It’s as precise as it is chaotic and the nihilistic nature of the band’s sound and aesthetic is still clear and to the point.

So, overall, whether you found this album disappointing or not, to me, it’s the best work Code has put out yet. By far. Not taking anything away from what comes before or after at all, this one just stands out among them like a sore thumb, and for good reason. This is one of my favorite albums for good reason. If it beat out fucking Triptykon as #1 of the year for Christ’s sake, you know there’s something there. Amazing album by one of today’s best.

Until next time.

-Scvm

Album Thoughts | Acid Bath: When the Kite String Pops (1994)

As I said in my most recent update post, I said that i’ll be doing random reviews. Well, this is the first one (and first of three to come this week), and what better album to start with than my favorite one of all time, by my absolute favorite band of all time? I think it’s 100% appropriate. So here goes…

Acid Bath is a band who I have an eternal love for. Although they have only released 2 albums in their entire existence, they are 2 albums that I will forever cherish and will never, ever, ever, EVER get tired of. I discovered these guys 11 years ago when I went on some random dude’s Myspace page and heard Scream of the Butterfly. After hearing that song for the first time, I immediately looked them up and gave the rest of the songs on the album and their other album a listen, and I was hooked. The rest is history. All these years later and every time I listen to both of these albums, It’s like hearing them for the first time allover again. I love it every single time. This band’s body of work, as small as it is, has gotten me through a lot of shitty times in the last decade plus. Good times as well. Everything about this band, from frontman Dax Riggs’ voice and lyrics to the overall muddy, sludgey sound of the music altogether to the artwork and imagery has kept me a fan for all these years thus far and always will. I will be reviewing Paegan Terrorism Tactics in the future. I’m not going to do a Discography Dialogue on them because there are only these 2 albums and they are both deserving of a full review, so that’s what i’ll do. Starting with this one. My favorite of the 2.

When the Kite String Pops is an album that you can’t exactly categorize because it’s a mix of so many hints from so many different styles and genres. It’s a blend of southern style melodic Sludge, as heard in tracks like opener The Blue, Dr. Seuss is Dead, Finger Paintings of the Insane and God Machine; slow, Sludgey, almost Eyehategod-style songs that have this swampy, southern melodic drawl to them that creates this very unique balance of slow, thick, chunky riffs, bassy, dragging drums and the ever so recognizable dueling raspy, harsh and sweet, echoey clean vocals of Dax himself. Also in the mix, you got the psychedelic Rock-driven Tranquilized, that sounds like something straight out of the 70s that somehow found it’s way into the early 90s and adopted it’s aesthetic. This song is just full of psychedelic riffs and classic 70s style grooves while still maintaining that harsh, Grungey contemporary 90s tone and attitude and mixes it all together in an incredibly unique and smooth way and it just fits together perfectly. Then there are parts that have a bit of a Punk & Hardcore feel, with tracks such as Cheap Vodka and my favorite songs on the album Toubabo Koomi, Jezebel, What Color is Death and Dope Fiend. The more fast-paced and bellicose side of Acid Bath is displayed on these tracks while still maintaining the Louisiana-style melodic feel that makes it so unique.

Topping things off, we have the pure Southern Rock influence that we hear in Scream of the Butterfly and The Bones of Baby Dolls, which are slow, acoustic, melancholic, ballady hymns that really exhibit the versatility and artistic drive this band had and the darkness that drove it. Then there’s another one of my favorite tracks, Mortician’s Flame, that exhibits a balance between Grungey melodic Rock and dirty, thick Sludge. Dax’s croony, broodingly harmonic vocals, mixed with his disturbingly poetic lyrics that revolve around death, drugs, murder and morbid esoterica really paint a picture of what you’re listening to in your mind. That’s one of the things I love about this band and this album. You’re not only hearing it, you’re seeing it. Like some beautifully fucked up hallucination.

To say this album is an experience of a listen would be an understatement. It’s a melancholic, psychedelic, grimy and fucked up experience from start to finish. These guys will disturb you just as much as they will intrigue you. They had that sort of effect that not many other bands can say they have. They were a special group of musicians that tragically disbanded way too soon. They took the idea of Sludge, Grunge, Doom, Punk and Hardcore and blended them into something that I doubt any other band could have pulled off. Their style was different for their time and still different for today. This is a unique and special kind of album that I myself can’t say enough about to do it justice. That’s why it’s my all-time favorite. Every time I listen to it it’s like my first time hearing it allover again. I never get tired of it and never will. No other album has ever done that for me.

Until next time.

-Scvm

Album Thoughts | Body Count: Bloodlust

To be perfectly honest, although I do like both genres, I can’t say I’ve ever been too much of a fan of Metal and Hip-Hop coming together. Just not really my cup-of-coffee… ok, tea, for you expression purists out there. Anyway, the merging of these two styles has rarely peaked my interest or gave me enjoyment. However, the reason I say rarely, and not never, is because there do exist some anomalies within this spectrum. Bands like E-Town Concrete, who I’ve always enjoyed, or more recently, TRC (The Revolution Continues), one of the UK’s current premiere bands in Hardcore, and I’m not a big fan of Hip-Hop and Hardcore mixing either. Then, we have undoubtedly the biggest and most popular of the bunch. The band at hand in this review. I’m talking about the infamous and almighty Body Count.

Fronted by none-other than the legendary Ice-T, Body Count are known for their combination of Thrash Metal, Crossover and Hip-Hop that first gained them notoriety with the single There Goes the Neighborhood and some controversy with the song Cop Killa, both off their self-titled 1992 debut. They bursted on to the scene with something relatively unique for it’s time and not done by many, aside from the highly acclaimed (and highly overrated) collaboration between Anthrax and Public Enemy with Bring the Noise. They bring a style that has made them a standout among the Crossover and Metal scene in general and has only gotten heavier, angrier and more in your face and brutally honest through the years and this album is a prime fucking example of that.

After 2006’s Murder 4 Hire, the band went on an 8-year hiatus and returned with the 2014 banger Manslaughter, and they returned as the heaviest, loudest and most straightforward version of themselves yet and if you heard that album, you’ll know what I mean. This album, however, takes it to a whole other level. This album consists of some of the heaviest and most catchy riffs these guys have ever produced. Starting with album opener Civil War, which I still have the main riff to stuck in my head, and also features a solo by Dave Mustaine. Heavy ripper of a track. This first thing I noticed about this album is that it’s a lot more Hardcore oriented than usual. This track, as well as many of the bangers that followed, including The Ski Mask Way and the monstrously heavy All Love is Lost (ft. Max Cavalera). The Hardcore influence is very prominent and these three songs are the biggest indicators of that. The Thrash element is there as well and we still get a bunch of pretty sick solos, but the Hardcore-ish chaos definitely has center stage.

Things take an even more interesting turn with songs like This is Why We Ride, which takes thing in a more mid-paced direction and includes this very catchy main riff as Ice-T spits bars on the trials and tribulations of the streets and the ‘kill or be killed’ nature of the ghetto. Can’t say I can relate much to this one, but it’s a great track regardless. The deeper you go into this album, the darker things get as you get into tracks like Here I Go Again and the title track, which reminds me a lot of the classic Dr. Dre & Ice Cube jam Natural Born Killaz. Songs about straight up murder and spilling blood everywhere you set foot. What more can you ask for? Then we have the double cover of Slayer’s Raining Blood and Postmortem. Both well done covers.

Overall, this is yet another top-notch offering, as you would expect to get by Body Count and honestly, they outdid themselves once again. This is arguably their best and heaviest album yet and it should surely leave you itching for more for the next 2, 3 or however many years until they release their next one. If you enjoy Metal and Hip-Hop and don’t mind them mixing, this is definitely one to check out, as well as their other stuff. If you do mind them mixing, like me, then maybe it’s one to skip, but give it try first, because it’s an exception of mine and it just might be one of yours too, and this is one of the reasons why Ice-T and his infamous company of talented musicians have done it again.

Until next time.

-Scvm