Monday, 27 January 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Midnight, "Rebirth by Blasphemy

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 24/01/2020
Label: Metal Blade Records

“Rebirth by Blasphemy” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Fucking Speed & Darkness
2). Rebirth by Blasphemy
3). Escape The Grave
4). Cursed Possessions
5). Rising Scum
6). Raw Attack
7). Devil’s Excrement
8). Warning from the Reaper
9). The Sounds of Hell
10). You Can Drag me Through Fire

The Review:

Midnight, North America's Venomous Motorhead acolytes are back with this ten track panzer of an album. This is their fourth album and all is operating exactly as you would expect. From the first album proper in 2011, “Satanic Royalty”, it was obvious where Midnight were coming from, going to and what they intended to do on the way.

For those who don't know, this is Motorhead by way of Venom and any other down 'n' dirty rock 'n' roll acts you can name. I missed “Sweet Death and Ecstasy” in 2017, but I was in on the ground floor for both “Satanic Royalty” and “No Mercy For Mayhem”. This is closer to “Satanic Royalty” than “NMFM”. The rolling grooves are ever present and the Fast Eddie-esque leads of the title track let you know that the band's modus operandi has not changed one jot.

Indeed, the opener of “Fucking Speed and Darkness” reads like a manifesto. It's simple, really: if you like classic Motorhead and classic Venom, you will love this. You can pick any track and it represents the band; “Escape The Grave” is superb and Motorhead-ish, “Devil's Excrement” is excellent and Venom-like as is “Rising Scum”.

As a one man band in the studio, there is no real sense of any of this being sterile and over-produced (!) but there is some variety in tempos and riffs. Athenar has done a great job as a lone wolf musician as it sounds like a band playing in the studio- no mean feat. I prefer the more Motorhead-esque material- “Warning From The Reaper” is perhaps a good example- but there is absolutely nothing to dislike here.

Just as there are no bad tracks, there are no huge stand outs either- this is just a consistent and rock solid album. If “Satanic Royalty” had “You Can't Stop Steel” and “Rip This Hell”, while “No Mercy For Mayhem” had “Prowling Leather”, this album has ten tracks of uniformly high standard that will please fans of old and anyone new to the band who gets what they are about. If pushed, I might go with “The Sounds of Hell” or “Fucking Speed and Darkness” as the pick of the litter, but there are good arguments for any song here.

With a pleasingly 80s drum sound and rough and ready mix, this is simple blackened rock n roll. The closing “You Can Drag Me Through The Fire” is a slight departure from the blueprint with its longer intro, but really it's a case of business as usual once the track gets going. This is another good album from Midnight and one that will please the already committed violators or newcomers to the band's satanic rites.

“Rebirth by Blasphemy” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Sunday, 26 January 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Canopy, "Humanity Loss"

By: Peter Morsellino 

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 31/01/2020
Label: Independent

“Humanity Loss” DD track listing:

1). Intrusion
2). Hostile Architecture I
3). Hostile Architecture II
4). Exigent Weight
5). No Cure
6). Adrenochrome

The Review: 

The fourth release by Atlanta's Canopy is coming, and if you're not ready for it, it will destroy you.  This thing is crushing, not just in its brutal riffing, but in its dense, foreboding atmosphere.  This is a visceral, unforgiving listening experience.  Prepare yourself for “Humanity Loss”

The album begins perfectly with “Intrusion”, an ambient collage of dark undulating tones and melancholic guitars that descend into swirls of chaotic feedback and panicked screams. I'm not usually a huge fan of this type of introductory track, but here it serves an absolutely necessary purpose. It's a warning, a disclaimer. Shit is about to get real, and it doesn't take long for it to begin. 

“Intrusion” feeds directly into “Hostile Architecture l & ll”, creating a suite of devastating emotional destruction. The atmospheres don't quit, keeping you wrapped in a nightmare world that you fear you may never awaken, while the band alternates between trying to break skulls and lull you to sleep. It is as beautiful as it is ugly, as hopeless as it is powerful. These three songs will fill you with such a wondrous dread, it may in fact creep into your outside world. 

Canopy doesn't lighten up its grip on you at any point of this album.  Exigent Weight” is a hypnotizing blur with some fight riffs that will tear you apart.  No Cure” brings you down to your absolute emotional core, with a depressive tone that strips away all hope. 

The album closes out with the dark epic “Adrenochrome”.  Pained vocals tear through a dreamscape of crushing riffs and pounding drums. The melodic guitars on this track are a particular standout, calling back to the melancholy picking of the introduction.  The atmosphere is black as night. It is a goddamn masterpiece. 

I take back what I said earlier in this review. You cannot prepare yourself for the onslaught that is “Humanity Loss”. This album will destroy you, and I doubt there is anything you can do about it.  It will lay atop you like a hag, boring deep into your soul with its crushing weight.  And if you're anything like me, you will love every single second of it.

“Humanity Loss” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

REVIEW: Orbiter, "The Deluge" (EP)

By: Chris Markwell

Album Type: EP
Date Released: 29/01/2020
Label: Independent

“The Deluge” DD//LP track listing:

1. Bone to Earth
2. Astral Racer
3. Orchids
4. In Echoes

The Review: 

Music has a power unlike any other.  A sonic gift to transport us away from our worries at times, a time capsule to transport us back to a milestone moment at other times.  In any case, good music will evoke a response that transcends the sounds to which you’re experiencing.  

Enter from the wild lands of Finland: Orbiter.  Their EP “The Deluge” is coming out on January 29th 2020, and… well, it’s already going to be on my Top Ten list for the year.  It’s hard to remain objective and give a detailed review about this simply transcendental piece of work, but I’m going to do my utmost.  

Four tracks long, this EP from the Finnish quintet is all about quality and making every second mean something.  There’s not a song that doesn’t hit the mark, for me: with riffs so fuzzy my speakers developed a five o’clock shadow, it’s a blend of Sabbath, Clutch, Turbowolf, and Kyuss goodness, with a smattering of heavier Hawkwind hits drizzled on top of the mix.  Seriously, you could eat some of the sounds on this EP with a spoon, they’re that thick.  

Vocalist Carolin, the newest addition to the band’s line-up, has a truly haunting voice.  Like, ‘move a Ouija board planchette with her vocalisations’ haunting.  The dual vocals on EP closer track ‘In Echoes’ remind me, strangely, of folk singer Maddy Prior (of Steeleye Span fame).  The track’s verses have this minimalist approach to it, just a suggestion of guitar touches, which then descends into the heaviest pit of distortion and sonic compression.  Tuomas, in charge of the low frequencies, really makes his presence felt in each track, but especially in this 8-minute epic, where you feel the bass notes touch you like an old friend’s embrace one minute, then hit you like a lightning bolt the next.  

“The Deluge” has truly drenched my musical soul to its very core.  Orbiter have created a prog/doom/stoner EP that has not only knocked me out of the stratosphere but caused me to be taken in by their mighty sonic gravity.  As a satellite, I will happily keep coming back to Orbiter forevermore. 

“The Deluge” is available HERE

Band info: Facebook || Instagram || Bandcamp || YouTube

Friday, 24 January 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Dukatalon, "Involuntary Action"

By: Benjamin Gomes

Album Type: Full Length 
Date Released: 01/01/2020
Label: Independent 

“Involuntary Action” DD track listing:

1). Above The Flames
2). No Consolation
3). Conscience Bleeds
4). Dark Pool
5). Involuntary Action
6). Blackened Disease
7). Myopia
8). Angels In Red
9). Quicksand Warning

The Review: 

10 years after their Relapse Records debut, Saved By Fear”, Israeli riffmasters Dukatalon return to crush our ears with Involuntary Action”, a rather unique exercise in heaviness that albeit being traceable regarding influences, stands on its own as a great sludge release.   

Sonically the album is very akin to the works of bands like High On Fire, early Mastodon or the first The Sword albums. During its whole duration the band always grips the listener closely with their groovy riffs but also keeps the songs interesting with some beautifully intertwined leads that never feel unnecessary and give some air to breathe before getting crushed again by their excellent riffage.   
Throughout the album, the band also explores more atmospheric influences which is the case on the title track, which wouldn’t seem displaced if it appeared on an album by Cult of Luna for example. With all the sonic realms covered through this album the band shows that their comfort zone is pretty diverse and that they don’t sit within a specific sound which contributes to their uniqueness in the sludge scene.  

If you want a great time with a magnificent sludge album that crushes your soul while leaving you wanting for more, Involuntary Action” is definitely what youre looking for. 

“Involuntary Action” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: Thy Catafalque, "Naiv"

By: Thomas Gonzales

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 24/01/2020
Label: Season of Mist

“Naiv” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. A bolyongás ideje (4:55)
2. Tsitsushka (5:39)
3. Embersólyom (4:17)
4. Számtalan színek (2:34)
5. A valóság kazamatái (5:30)
6. Kék madár (Négy kép) (6:27)
7. Napút (3:48)
8. Vető (8:17)
9. Szélvész (5:36)

The Review:

Self-labeled Avante Garde solo artist Tamas Katai brings yet another evolution to the ever-changing stylings of his opus Thy Catafalque. While not a “band” in the traditional sense, Thy Catafalque’s latest release “Naiv”, is an ensemble of musicians showcasing no less than 10 guest artists. Tamas once again shifts the dynamic of underground metal, covering a wide array of genres, including Black Metal, Folk, Electronic, and even Pop. Under his band’s moniker, Tamas has woven a diverse tapestry of sound, into a colorful exploration of sonic ingenuity, communicating why Thy Catafalque is such a prolific force in the metal consciousness.

Opening strong with the track “A bolyongás ideje”, Thy Catafalque’s roots in Black Metal are put on full display in a hauntingly dark jam, befitting of an extreme metal veteran. However, it isn’t long before the listener is swept up in Hungarian Folk instruments and jazz inspired hooks, shifting seamlessly through various genres, before peaking with electronic sections and Pop sensibilities; then once again giving way to his brand of Blackened Folk Metal. 
Track 8 “Veto” is a whopping 8 minutes long, and begins with a conventional metal hook, but eventually transitions to a chilled-out post rock bop, complete with twinkling synth effects, and droning keyboard tones. It is as frenetic as it sounds, but it is pieces like this that showcase the variety and cultural influences of Tamas’ compositions. Folk drums and flutes weave amongst Hungarian choral singers before ultimately culminating in an intense melodic burst of metal. There’s a little something for everyone, and if you wanted to cover the spectrum of sounds present here-in, this is the track to share.

Getting their start in the late 90s, Thy Catafalque’s current sound is far beyond simple experimentation, “Naiv” is a fascinating study of traditional songwriting paired with Black Metal, that is dynamic and diverse enough to stand out in the field of their Progressive and Avante Garde peers, but it still be enjoyed by their long-time fans seeking something a heavier.

Thy Catafalque do not pretend to create “easy” listening music, but instead stay true to the artistic vision with which they approach each project. This is not an album that someone can pick or choose a single from and find satisfaction, but it is instead meant to be heard as a cohesive concept. While it may take some listeners multiple attempts, those who are vigilant will be rewarded with a unique and fulfilling experience that transcends the scope of conventional songwriting.

“Naiv” is available HERE

Band info: Bandcamp || facebook

Thursday, 23 January 2020

VIDEO PREMIERE: Icelandic stoner rockers Keelrider debut "Sun"

Infusing a driving stoner metal sound with vestiges of Stone Temple Pilots and SoundgardenKeelrider's new single "Sun" provides an intriguing look at what's on the way from this Icelandic band.  Following the success of their debut album “North”, Keelrider has retooled its lineup and offers "Sun" as a preview to their upcoming sophomore LP. Check it out below, light up and watch you speaker die. 

Band info: Facebook || bandcamp

ALBUM REVIEW: Nero di Marte, "Immoto"

By: Peter Morsellino 

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 24/01/2020
Label: Season of Mist

“Immoto” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Sisyphos
2). L’Arca
3). Immoto
4). Semicerchi
5). La Casa del Diavolo
6). Irradia
7). La Fuga

The Review:

I don't know what you'll want to call this beast.  Words like progressive, post, grind, djent; they will all be thrown around in discussions about it.  But none of that is important. Words can't really describe the sound of this album, but I'll try my best to prepare you for it.

Nero di Marte's third album hits on many levels. Its heavy, its complex, it's a thing of beauty.  Impossibly technical rhythms pepper this album, backing up a jazzy blend of noodling, crunchy riffs, and some very interesting vocal patterns.  Comparisons will be made to Animals as Leaders, yet this is nowhere near good enough. “Immoto” is a thing all its own, and it needs to be consumed as such. 
A very dense and somewhat frightening atmosphere hangs over the album as a whole.  It puts you into the middle of the music and grabs on to you emotionally. I think that this is what will separate Nero di Marte from their contemporaries in technical metal music. There is a personal connection that helps you feel connected to the sound personally. This isn't mile a minute speed jazz for you to try and fail to tap your foot to. This is a visceral experience. This is a sound that will sink into you and take you wherever it's going, and you had better hang on lest you be left behind.

I'm trying to keep this brief, as it is very difficult to explain without you having listened to it already. Give it a play. Let it consume you. Let the riffs crush you to the ground. Let the rhythms tear you apart while the atmospheres hold you together.  Let the vocals take you on their magical journey through the "motionless, transformative place within (you)," as the band themselves put it.  Let it speak for itself. I hope you enjoy, I know that I did.

“Immoto” is available HERE

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

ALBUM REVIEW: Mourir, “Animal Bouffe Animal”

By: Josh McIntryre

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 21/02/2020
Label: Throatruiner 

“Animal Bouffe Animal” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Sentir Le Vide
2. Ton Univers Mental M’Épuise
3. Foutu Pour Foutu
4. La Gueule Ouverte
5. Parole De Hyène
6. Animal Bouffe Animal

The Review:

The comparisons to Plebeian Grandstand are inevitable given this initially being a project of that band’s bassist, Oliver L. That being said, Mourir stands out on its own and brings us an album that I fully expect to be one of 2020’s best in black metal.

This is more on the side of atmospheric black metal if we want to be picky but that doesn’t mean that Mourir stays in the background. The music isn’t exactly trance inducing. Instead, like Plebeian, Mourir is dark, dissonant, and downright aggressive. Its animalistic bite comes from the production as it is absolutely in-your-face the majority of the time whether blast-beats are pounding with a cranked snare (much louder than most black metal) or when they are pulled back for more crushing sections. Even the ambient sections feel threatening. In addition to this hell-inducing music the vocals are bestial, demonic. They sound like the core of someone’s inner being, with all of their existential anguish, lashing out onto the world.

Heavy metal has been inducing this kind of imagery for fifty years now so it is rare to find a band that stands out in its brutality. This, for me, rings even more true within the black metal genre, a culture filled with bands that try to be ‘dark and evil’ but just end up mellow and corny. It just sounds so personal with Mourir. It’s the difference between fantasy violence, like playing Mortal Kombat as a kid, and seeing actual blood from an actual person. It’s the nausea felt by Antoine Roquentin and the bitter ennui we’d expect from Sisyphus, even if he’s supposed to be happy. There’s a certain psychological realism at play that’s hard to explain but ultimately it’s our ability to relate that makes it all the more gruesome and yet so much more interesting.

“Animal Bouffe Animal “is supposed to sound like we’re being pulled into Hell (and reads like it from what I gather using Google to translate the French lyrics) yet it feels like the human id screaming at a world it is mismatched with, as if Hell is just a metaphor. Misþyrming and Blut Aus Nord stand out as other bands I’d liken Mourir to and this record is easily as good as the 2019 albums from both, respectively. When you want your black metal to be disgusting and aggressive this record is a must.

“Animal Bouffe Animal” is available HERE

Band info: Instagram || facebook

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Bonded, "Rest in Violence"

By: Peter Morsellino 

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 17/01/2020
Label: Century Media Records

“Rest in Violence” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Godgiven (04:13)
2. Suit Murderer (04:12)
3. Rest in Violence (03:49)
4. Je Suis Charlie (03:55)
5. The Rattle & The Snake (04:00)
6. No Cure for Life (4:40)
7. Where Silence Reverberates (05:14)
8. Galaxy M87 (04:52)
9. Arrival (03:52)
10. The Outer Rim (04:42)

The Review:
What is the current state of Thrash Metal?  Slayer took their final bows late last year.   Metallica and Megadeth have risen into the musical stratosphere leaving behind much of what made them the bands they are today.  The genre continues to grow but seems to grow more and more unrecognizable with the growing influence of hardcore. Who remains carrying the flame?  Who can return thrash to its classic roots?  I believe that Bonded is the band that is up to that task. On their 2020 album, “Rest in Violence”, Bonded offer up some of the best, pure, uncut thrash metal I've heard in a very long time.
searing, burning, face melting thrash.  

This album burns quickly. With its mile a minute tempos and infectious grooves keeping the listener laser focused, it seems to be over almost as quickly as it begins. Don't get me wrong though, this isn't a speed run. This album has a lot to offer in its diversity.  While its title track works desperately to break the sound barrier, tracks like “No Cure For Life” rest back on mid-tempo beats without losing any of the intensity.  Even when leaning off the gas, this album maintains that thrashy grit and attitude that brought us to it. 

The vocals on this album blended perfectly with the band's breakneck pace give off a hint of a Motorhead vibe, while sometimes even evoking Kind Diamond in their theatricality.  Guitar harmonies rival the best of Iron Maiden's catalog. Drums hammer into the listener's skull, sometimes stealing the show entirely.  If you like drums and own a car, you may want to invest in a steering wheel cover before giving this album a listen. It's going to get a workout.
Lyrical themes on “Rest in Violence” are a diverse mix. While all the genre's favorite themes are present, Bonded do not rest on the tried and true standards of war and bloodshed.  These songs often reach into the realms of space for influence, creating a particularly interesting atmosphere for thrash metal. One particular lyrical standout, “The Outer Rim” offers up some sorrowful emotion that is all too often missing from thrash. 

Bonded offer up a masterpiece of thrash metal on par with the best of anything the Big Four have offered in a very long time. Break out your battle jacket for this one and get ready to headbang. 

“Rest in Violence” is available HERE

Band info: facebook

6 NEW BANDS: THE SLUDGELORD's "666 Pack Review" (January 2020)

By: Nikos Mixas

Wow! The “666 Pack review” made it to a new decade and we can affirm without a doubt that 2020 is going to be even more heartless, demeaning and crass than the previous years. Why? Because THE SLUDGELORD has the testicular fortitude to say what other reviewers won’t!!!  If you suck, we’re not going to sugarcoat it.  If you rule, we’re going to make sure everyone knows about it.  And if you’re new to this, each and every month we handpick 6 review submissions and critique them by only using 6 words, then we rate them on a scale from 1 to 666!  Check out our there’s no hope for you this decade rating scale below: 

1 – You should go bye bye just like 2019 did…
2 – The good news is that you have a whole decade to get better, the bad news is that you probably won’t.  
3 – The 2010’s were above average as far as heavy music was concerned.  You can do better or take up a real hobby like review writing instead.
4 – Being one of the first bands reviewed for this decade, not too shabby so far.       
5 – We feel like you’re setting the bar higher for the new year.  Better than sucking.     
666 THE SLUDGELORD believes you’ll be mentioned again during December’s best of 2020 write up, excellent job fuckers!

Caveat:  Even though the “666 Pack Review” is meant to offer humorous critique, there are no safe spaces here and your gripes will only make you sound like a bellyacher.  THE SLUDGELORD is a picky listener…and doesn’t care what you think of his opinions….

Astralborne “Eternity’s End” (Toledo, OH, U.S.A.)    Rating: 3

Possibly Dethklok’s 7th somewhat talented cousin…. 

Lamassu “Into The Empty” (Melbourne, Australia)   Rating: 5

Dude has range like Chris Cornell…

Blasphematory “Depths of the Obscurity“ (New Jersey, U.S.A.)   Rating: 4

Crude old school ghoulish death metal.  

Lapsarian “Ruminant” (Washington, D.C., U.S.A.)   Rating: 4

Mostly for fans of “post” anything.

Psychocoven “Black Magic Rites” (Katowice, Poland)  Rating: 3

Bobby Liebling, are you in here?  

Imipolex “Order of The Epimethean Flame” (Portland, ME, U.S.A.)   Rating: 5

Chaotic, grindy blackened death, techy explosions.