Friday, 3 July 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Empress, "Premonition"

By: Zac McCune

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 24/07/2020
Label: Independent

“Premonition” CD//CS//DD track listing:

1. A Paler Wanderer
2. Sepulchre
3. Passage
4. Trost
5. Hiraeth
6. Premonition
7. Lion’s Blood

The Review:

Empress’ debut full-length release “Premonition” is somewhat confusing and, in this case, that fact is absolutely not a pejorative. Yes, it is understood that most armchair doofuses would describe something as ‘confusing’ in order to nonchalantly exhibit their full neck-bearded disdain. But we need to move on from this sort of stupidity and accept that all things are capable of defying comfortable genre notions of what music is or isn’t, and start critically analysing things for what they are and not for what they sound similar to. Does it even need to be remarked upon that people hoping for bands to sound more similar, from doom record to doom record, are hatefully stupid morons? From a perspective that dimwitted, are we to assume that bands who sound more familiar are “better”; which would propose that bands pushing weird sonic boundaries are (somehow) lesser because they don’t fit in? Fucking gross.

So, despite being a Sludge and Doom and Post-Metal band, it sounds like Empress takes more cues from 90’s buzzbin heroes à la Shiner or even Failure than they do from contemporary clean-production doomers like Conan or Torche or even Khemmis. Empress’ impressive ability to transition between and around these lines is especially present in Peter Sacco’s (Seer) vocals. At times his vocals are big broad ethereal clean-singing overtones which take on synth-like quality. At other times, he conjures familiar screeches that really push Empress’ riffs to their limit.

This is no more obvious than in “Premonition”s second track, “Sepulchre”. As it fires off in one direction with snare-driven marching style bursts of essential 90’s alternative smoothness, it quickly pivots into harsher realms with high timbre screaming and tritonal chugs, gaining access to the familiar domains of Conan, Torche, Floor, and Black Cobra. Helping this chameleon of a song dip between contrasting sonic temperatures, the riffs and drumming shift ferocity. From what feels like only a little bit, but, from what causes a seachange in Empress’ tonal focus, they yank the gloomy atmosphere from once place to another, but without tearing it. To maintain momentum like this is what most would call ‘songwriting’. And Empress has it. Unlike far too many in the extreme music categories, Empress’ focus is on songwriting. They accomplish this by way of artistic flexibility. Where others drone and “crush” and monotonously repeat hard hitting anti-riffs with endless guttural slurring, Empress utilizes a whole helluva lot of stylistic impulses ranging from Rock, Alternative, Psychedelia, and Doom to get their message across, even if it is a potentially confusing one.

With touches of celtic-fantasy via song titles like “Hiraeth” or the religiously oriented content vis-à-vis “A Pale Wanderer”, and coupled with yet another anciently derived European word for a specific mood like “Trost”, it would appear that Empress want to explain themselves or their music in old languages. This may be enough to understand a possible interpretation of humanity that through all eons and all experiences, not much has really changed in regard to the ways in which people experience death and gloom. They are final. “Premonition” becomes a much more knowable title when listening to the album through this lens, as do Empress’ tonal choices.If that sounds a little emo, well, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it sure as hell ain’t a dog. 

More importantly, the way Empress crosses genre lines sounds like an encouragement as if to prove Doom does not need to sound like it (contemporarily speaking) in order to better embody it. You can find doom anywhere you’re willing to look or listen.

“Premonition” is available to order HERE 

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: King Buzzo with Trevor Dunn, "Gift of Sacrifice"

By: Peter Morsellino

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 14/08/2020
Label: Ipecac Recordings

“Gift of Sacrifice” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Mental Vomit
2). Housing, Luxury, Energy
3). I’m Glad I Could Help Out
4). Delayed Clarity
5). Junkie Jesus
6). Science in Modern American
7). Bird Animal
8). Mock She
9). Acoustic Junkie

The Review:

Taking a huge creative step from 2014's “This Machine Kills Artists”, Buzz Osbourne's latest work offers some high strangeness to the typically masterful songwriting of his King Buzzo solo releases.  Accompanied by Mr Bungle's bassist extraordinaire, Trevor Dunn, “Gift of Sacrifice” provides a delightfully unique listening experience. 

With Mr Dunn's acoustic bass adding a classy lilt to the King's dark moodiness, “Gift of Sacrifice” is one of the most imaginative albums that I've had the pleasure of listening to all year. From jazzed out jams to strange noise pieces, this album definitely leans more to the freaked out side of things. Wild strings fluctuate across the nine tracks adding to the mystique of the release.

I do have to admit that this one is going to be hit or miss for a lot of people. Upon first listen I just plain wasn't into it. I guess I just wasn't in the mood. But I gave it another go and I'm really glad that I did. In the right frame of mind, this can be an incredible musical journey; you just need to allow yourself to go there. A lot of tracks remind me of Tom Waits' “Mule Variations” album, with dark tones mingling with the jazz melodies to forge a satisfyingly creepy atmosphere. It’s a lot of things and none of them all at once.

My advice for this one would be to really set your mood in advance. Pour yourself a glass of wine, dim the lights and get cozy in your finest lounger. Maybe light a joint and really settle yourself in. Let the music take you for a ride. Let it slide on in to your ear holes and rejoice in the frantic chill that it exudes.  You're going to enjoy this one if you let yourself.

“Gift of Sacrifice” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp  

Thursday, 25 June 2020

ALBUM PREMIERE: Swarming, "Primeval Arteries of the Dead"

Today at THE SLUDGELORD I am pleased to premiere the debut release from Swarming entitled "Primeval Arteries of the Sacred Dead". Swarming is a new project made up of underground veterans from bands like Slaves BC, Veiled, Twilight Fauna, and Mevrimna.

Recorded in Pennsylvania in early 2019, Swarming offers mysterious, dissonant and experimental black metal. On this debut cassette release, Swarming bring forth three 10+ minute tracks of diverse sonic experimentation, blending elements of black metal, doom metal and noise. Extremely harsh, punishing and highly emotional.
Limited to 50 sealed cassette copies worldwide through Nihilistic Noise Propaganda you can stream the album in full below and pre-orders are available here

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Wino, "Forever Gone"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 26/06/2020
Label: Ripple Music

“Forever Gone” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Forever Gone
2). Taken
3). The Song Is At The Bottom Of The Bottle
4). No Wrong
5). Dark Ravine
6). Dead Yesterday
7). So Fine
8). Crystal Madonna
9). Lavender and Sage
10). Was, Is, and Shall Be
11). Isolation

The Review:

Wino is the rarest of beasts- an elder statesman of a metal genre who is still revered and hasn't faded into irrelevance. It's a testament to his skills as a song writer and his charisma or star quality, if you prefer, that is sadly lacking from the scene these days.

Whether it be his output with The Obsessed (uniformly excellent), Saint Vitus (ditto), Spirit Caravan (ditto), The Hidden Hand (ditto) one off involvements like Shrinebuilder, Place of Skulls and even Probot (again, ditto) Wino is always an engaging aural presence.

We are a decade on from his last acoustic solo album (not counting his records with Conny Ochs) and I listened to “Forever Gone” wondering what type of songs he would present this time. Pleasingly, this feels like a sequel to “Adrift”- Wino has retained the lovelorn and melancholic qualities of that record and they are presented just as starkly here.

Only two tracks feature a full band presentation, the rest are guitar and voice- with some extra instrumentation to compliment the stark arrangements here and there. The title track and the three tracks that follow are wistful and also dark. In fact, it's not until the seventh track, “So Fine” that there are any kind of uplifting vibes to be really heard. A hint at Wino's headspace may be found in the album's powerful closing statement- a cover of Joy Division's “Isolation”. Lyrically, the album is great throughout and Wino's ruminations on the world are worth the price of admission.

If Wino is in a lonely place of dreams where hours turn into years, as “Lavender and Sage” proclaims, then he is gifting us some great music. How many more records there will be we simply cannot know. It's crazy, but Wino started up The Obsessed in 1980. To put this into perspective, Lemmy started Motorhead in 1975, so only five years of activity split the two talismanic frontmen.

You'll certainly wade through dark and murky waters as you listen through this album, but as you might expect, there are hidden depths that are worth investing the time to find here. A natural and worthy successor to “Adrift”, full of sombre reflection and eloquent musings.

“Forever Gone” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Saturday, 20 June 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Xenoglyph, "Mytharc"

By: Zak McCune

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 17/04/2020
Label: Glossolalia Records

“Mytharc” CS//DD track listing:

1. A Flickering Eternity
2. Mytharc
3. Shades of Illusion
4. Wraith Chamber
5. Repression Regime

The Review:

What is a Xenoglyph?

The year is 2020. One of the most powerful nations in all human history has elected a reality TV show host with a petty and fragile, egomaniacal demeanor for their President and leader. Polar ice caps, integral to maintaining a comfortable ecosystem for human life to survive, are drastically melting as ice sheets which have not defrosted for some 2.6 million years are, now, cool liquid. Nuclear warheads, capable of ending all life on planet earth some 46 thousand times over, are pointed in every direction, and whose red activation buttons are under the thumb of power-hungry morons. A new, wildly infectious disease has spread over the face of the earth. Under governmental decree, people are forced inside, cutting off contact with others including their own family. Businesses have been forced to shut. Travel has grinded to a halt. And dominos of the earth’s economy are colliding, falling one after the other, leaving a supermega dust cloud of uncertainty, poverty and fear.

Enter a transmission - nay - an entity from “Super-Earth”, GJ 357 d, taking the shape of a, self-described, psychedelic black metal album whose members’ identities are as equally shrouded as their origins are unknown. Its name? “Mytharc”. The band? Xenoglyph.

All bullshit theatrics and cosmic mysterium aside, “Mytharc” is a massive slab of traditional black metal that possesses continuous movement. From start to finish the all-too-familiar cadence of stiff snare hits striking in between iced-out metronomic hi-hat variations, with continuous double bass drumming, goad the frigid guitar leads while evil breathy screams are buried somewhere toward the back of the mix. The album has an excellent atmosphere. Never pushing too far but never not giving enough, the focus of Xenoglyph is clear. 

Mytharc” is more than the sum of its parts. Truly, it is not the type of album that has big singular moments nor does it seem interested in bringing the listener to any sort of grand point. Rather, “Mytharc” is presented like one excellent ink-soaked swath of ethereal dread. As any fan of the biggens like Immortal or Arckanum or Dark Funeral or even the ignoble Emperor would come to expect, “Mytharc” builds large amounts of catharsis, not from crescendonic moments, but gradually over longer stretches of melodic time. These weird alien dudes from GJ 357 d seem more interested in leaving you with a general presence than they are trying to convey a specific intent, the likes of which you may get from a long, mapped out journey with a final destination. Perhaps, they are trying to show us earthlings that the chaos we all feel in the time of their visit is less exceptional and something even more terrifying: constant.

“Mytharc” is available HERE

Band info: facebook

Friday, 19 June 2020

TRACK PREMIERE: Brimstone Coven, "The Inferno"

Initially featured on the site 7 years ago with the release of their debut self-titled album, Brimstone Coven have had quite the journey.  Signing on with Metal Blade Records in 2014 to release their first two releases as a repackaged full length and following that up in 2015 with their next and final release for Metal Blade Records “Black Magic”, these West Virginia occult rockers  have had set backs, however in 2018 with the independent release of ‘What Was and What Shall Be', Brimstone Coven showed they has lost none of their power
2019 would see the band writing a new batch of songs and enter the studio in early 2020. The result would prove to be Brimstone Coven’s darkest sounding album to date, entitled 'The Woes of a Mortal Earth'. The new year also saw the trio signing a new deal with the venerable label Ripple Music. Despite the foreboding atmosphere of their new album, the future of Brimstone Coven has never looked so bright and today we’re excited to debut a brand new track from album below. 
Check out “The Inferno” below and pre-orders are being taken HERE

Band info: Facebook
|| Bandcamp || Instagram

Friday, 12 June 2020

VIDEO PREMIERE: Deathnoisefrequency, "Chapter III :The Mortician`s Lamenting Dirge"

Today’s SLUDGELORD debutants are Saudi Arabia’s Deathnoisefrequency, a limitless musical experiment with an all-encompassing creepy, dark and depressive atmosphere where noise and death metal are smashed together with reckless abandon.
During the year of conception, they released a single and descended into relative silence. Through that lull, they recorded new songs, two of which will see the light of day on the debut EP: “Horrid Dirge”, set to be released July 17, 2020.
Get ready to be uncomfortable, to be sitting on the edge of your seat, this is not music for relaxation, it is tense and chaotic! The video for the single “Chapter III The Mortician’s Lamenting Dirge” sets this pattern with dark and morose visuals embossing the scathing wall of noise accompanying it. Check it out below and preorders are being taken HERE

Band info: facebook || bandcamp