Wednesday 26 June 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Yawning Man, ‘Macedonian Lines’

By: Andrew Field

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 14/06/2019
Label: Heavy Psych Sounds

What you have here is sublimely crafted and utterly beautiful musical moments which don’t outstay their welcome and leave you wanting more.

‘Macedonian Lines’ CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Virtual Funeral
2. Macedonian Lines
3. Melancholy Sadie
4. Bowie's Last Breath
5. I'm Not An Indian (But I Play One On TV)
6. I Make Weird Choices

The Review:

It has often been said that bands who stick around forever eventually lose some or all of their creative pulse and start churning out music of ever-decreasing relevance and quality. That claim can be laid at the feet of so many acts: from the Rolling Stones to Helmet and Aerosmith to Metallica. Those groups might remain incendiary in a live setting but let’s be honest – when was the last time you listened toA Bigger Bang”, “Dead to The World”, “Music from Another Dimension” orHardwired…. To Self-Destruct?”

Kudos then to Yawning Man for turning that theory on its head by brewing up their best works thirty-odd years into their musical journey. Those generator parties outside La Quinta in the Californian desert in the mid-1980s must feel like a long time ago to sonic travellers Mario Lalli and Garcy Arce, but the spirit of those events can still be found deep within the grooves ofMacedonian Lines”.

If their stunning 2016 third album “Historical Graffiti” started a purple patch, last year’s “The Revolt Against Tired Noises” consolidated their reputation as masters of their art. Ambient and achingly melancholy, it tingled and shone and soared and sounded like heaven. Macedonian Lines” wisely doesn’t try to trump it. There was no point them trying: nothing will ever better “Black Kite” which opened that 2018 opus.

On this new record the trio take their “less is more” approach one step further: from the flab-free 31-minute running time to the effortless ease with which these six tracks roll and undulate without any unnecessary excess. Whilst all the Yawning Man trademarks are present and correct, Macedonian Lines” belongs to four-stringer Mario Lalli. His bass owns this album, underpinning everything. On seven-minute opening cut “Virtual Funeral” Gary Arce’s instantly familiar guitar progressions are anchored by Lalli’s fat, fuzzed bassline and from there on his presence dominates the album’s sound.

The title track reeks of wide-open spaces and is pure musical cinema, whilst “Melancholy Sadie”’s echo-drenched sweet gloop of multi-tracked, picked guitar notes builds into a thick and filling sonic melange. An album highlight is “I’m Not A Real Indian”’s elegiac final 50-second sprint, which motors along and will sound fantastic this summer with the top down on a mid-American highway. It’s the kind of musical moment you don’t ever want to end.

They leave the best to last. Final cut “I Make Weird Choices” is a monster, gliding along until it’s explosive coda before fading into an unassuming close which neatly defines everything that’s great about Yawning Man. Lalli’s rumbling, guttural bass is the perfect counterpoint to Arce’s lush soloing, with Bill Stinson’s subtle drum work giving both of them acres of room to breathe. No showing off, just sublimely crafted and utterly beautiful musical moments which don’t outstay their welcome and leave you wanting more.

When Macedonian Lines” ends, all you want to do is listen to more Yawning Man because nothing else will do. And that is why this defining, vital band is as important today as it was way back in 1986. Long may they reign.

‘Macedonian Lines’ is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Monday 24 June 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Origin, ”Abiogenesis – A Coming Into Existence”

By: Eeli Helin

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 03/05/19
Label: Agonia Records

”Abiogenesis – A Coming Into Existence” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Insanity
2. Mauled
3. Autopsied Alive
4. Spastic Regurgitation
5. Bleed As Me
6. Mind Asulym
7. Infestation
8. Murder
9. Lethal Manipulation (The Bonecrusher Chronicles)
10. Sociocide
11. Manimal Instincts
12. Inner Reflections (The Pain From Within)

The Review: 

I was excited to the point of being overwhelmed when the extreme tech-metal gods Origin announced "Abiogenesis - A Coming Into Existence", a retrospective anniversary release that includes eight previously unreleased, re-worked tracks and their first EP, getting a worldwide release for the first time. While the inclusion of the extended play is a nice touch, I'm pretty certain that the most fascinating part of this release are the pre-Origin era tracks. The tracks initially composed under the monikers of Necrotomy and Thee Abomination in 1990-1993, were recorded and performed solely by the founding member and mastermind Paul Ryan during 2013-2018.

The two leading single cuts "Mind Asylum" and "Infestation " promised much. It shouldn't be a surprise that both songs sound like they could've been on the first few Origin albums, but with a production that's way clearer and perhaps up to par with the sound they have today. At times, it's also hard to believe that the performances on these tracks were indeed executed by only one person, since the listener can so easily imagine the songs being a product of a full band and more than a single composer. Speaking of performance and compositions, the tracks are definitely more straightforward than their later doings, yet that doesn't lessen the sheer impact of throat cutting precision and punishing rage that's constantly present. These tracks certainly amped up the anticipation for the rest of the release.

However, apart from these two tracks, "Abiogenesis" fell short on few fields; Firstly, some of the tracks feel a bit unfinished (granted, they're recreated thirty years old demo songs after all) and secondly, the band stepped into a major pothole by releasing the best two tracks beforehand. The latter point of view can be discussed and debated endlessly, but personally I prefer the pre-released tracks to be the agitators and the full release to be the hangman. Anyway, it took a few listens to get a better grasp of the album as a whole, and to find more depth in it. Disappointment might be too strong word to use here, but I noticed I had too big expectations considering the nature of the release. It should also be pointed out more strongly that while "Abiogenesis" is released under the Origin name, it's not an Origin album per se, but a special, anniversary release that's mainly meant to expand their discography to previously unheard material, which in itself honestly is interesting enough to justify the whole release.

Despite the aberrations mentioned earlier, if you like Origin, you'll most likely enjoy this too. Perhaps not right away, but you will. Besides the aforementioned singles, tracks like "Mauled" and "Murderer" are guaranteed to give you shivers, stupid grins and scratch the itch of getting new material. While these songs were initially composed almost three decades ago, they do have that certain feel and vigour in them that later on shaped Origin to be the band we all know today. "Abiogenesis" works as a whole but requires your full attention, blink and you’ll miss it.

The latter part of the release is the remastered version of their first EP "A Coming Into Existence". If you've ever listened to the band, you've more than likely listened to this EP as well. There's really nothing particularly fresh or new to say about it, so I won't be blabbering about it longer than necessary. "A Coming Into Existence" was the grand launch of this pioneering band and deserves to finally get a worldwide physical release. The physical pressing is also a sight to behold, and will not leave any collector cold.

Take all of this as you may. My feelings about "Abiogenesis - A Coming Into Existence" are more than twofold. The juvenile brilliance and the insipid turns here and there create a bit of an oxymoronic feel to the release, but that doesn't mean you couldn't enjoy the trip back to where it all begun. I can't stress enough that this indeed is a free meal, so to speak, and you know what they say about free food and complaining.

”Abiogenesis – A Coming Into Existence” is available HERE

Band info: facebook

Friday 21 June 2019

TRACK PREMIERE: NIGHTFUCKER deliver aural evisceration on "Death Beset"

By: Eeli Helin

We at THE SLUDGELORD are extremely delighted to present to you the first single from the upcoming debut album by NIGHTFUCKER. These Canadian sludge/doom rooted organ twisters are led by none other than Dominic Finnbow, formerly known from the Lovecraftian UK sludge titans that was known as Moss. After relocating over the Atlantic, Finnbow summoned a new set of mire dwelling lunatics around him and forged the demon that is with us today. NIGHTFUCKER have meticulously explored the deepest and most atrocious sewers of humanity over the last decade, yet the band has released only one demo as a self-produced cassette, titled "Foul Omens" prior to crafting their debut full-length, now getting it's release through Sentient Ruin and Rope or Guillotine.
While the odiously depicted creation process took a long time, all the suffering, anguish and hate is audible. The first single track, "Death Beset" clocks in at over eleven minutes, and encapsulates the album well in all it's eulogised misery. The atmosphere is very unforgiving, hypnotising loops are broken ever so often with more driving, beating rhythms that'll make you gasp and twitch. If you're close with the lead figures past works, you'll notice familiar resonances here and there, but it goes without saying that NIGHTFUCKER  is a being of it's own. That being is a disgusting, bruised entity with a crust of filth obtained from the aforementioned expeditions to the deepest ends of this planets cesspits. 
Their self titled debut will be released on July 12th and is available to preorder via Sentient Ruin (USA/ROW) HERE and Rope or Guillotine (Europe) HERE Give "Death Beset" a listen below with the volume maxed out and watch your speaker die. 

Thursday 20 June 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: This Gift Is A Curse, "A Throne of Ash"

By: Eeli Helin

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 14/06/2019
Label: Season of Mist

”A Throne of Ash” will gnaw its way deep into your conscious and stay there as an unremovable tumour clamping your nerves, producing both pleasure and agony in unison.

A Throne of Ash” CD//CS/DD//LP track listing:

1. Hæma
2. Blood Is My Harvest
3. Thresholds
4. Gate Dweller
5. Monuments for Dead Gods
6. Wolvking
7. I Am Katharsis
8. In Your Black Halo
9. Wormwood Star

The Review:

This Gift Is A Curse made themselves known to a wider audience with their Season of Mist debut ”All Hail the Swine Lord” in 2015, and now the Swedes return to finish (or rather continue) what they started with ”A Throne of Ash. Stylistically deep-rooted in blackened hardcore and sludge, the Scandinavians prove they've been perfecting their dim crafts over recent years, and the result is a retributing, gargantuan and thumpingly heavy album that forces you to return to it again and again. 

Like the majority of all things, ”A Throne of Ash” is not for everyone, however that doesn't mean the album wouldn't be worth your while. The album’s atmosphere is violent and isolated. The eerie, occultist photographic artwork draws attention to it repeatedly, and the fact that the album was recorded in an abandoned house away from the public noise just adds to the intriguing aspect of it all. Tracks such as "Thresholds" and "Monuments For Dead Gods" make sure to deprive all light from your surroundings, while the burners like "I Am Katharsis" and "Wormwood Star" make you question the fact that was there any light to begin with.

What's particularly alluring, is that even though the mix is abrasive and chaotic to the point it makes your ears bleed, every single frequently planted hook still cuts through like the very sickle pictured in the artwork. The raw and hurting ethos is constant, from the first distorted drum hits on the moodsetting intro track "Hæma" to the very last ritualistic ambience of the final track. Considering the album as a whole, it starts and ends to extremes, and is nothing but that in between. While I personally enjoy the silence most when an album ends, it can be deliberated if ”A Throne of Ash” should have some quiet waters here and there, instead of the constant rough flow that now lasts throughout its duration. After all, it goes on for a good 45 minutes, which can be a very long time for someone inclined for more compositionally dynamic variation. But on the other end of the scale, if you're looking to get beaten and pulverised without a single allusion of remorse, this is meant for you.

This Gift Is A Curse is here to leave a mark. They won't inflict similiar, mendable fleshwounds as a lot of the artists on these genres do; Instead, they'll gnaw their way deep into your conscious and stay there as an unremovable tumour clamping your nerves, producing both pleasure and agony in unison. ”A Throne of Ash" is a tremendous record, that paves the way for the band to become a more haunting, household name. Again, the album is not for everyone, but those who find themselves listening to it over and over again, will be purged from the grip of every day humanity.

A Throne of Ash” is available HERE

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

Monday 17 June 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Eternal Black, "Slow Burn Suicide"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 13/06/2019
Label: Obsidian Sky Records

Eternal Black have once again delivered an excellent record and represent the best of the American doom genre today. Masterful stuff.

“Slow Burn Suicide” DD track listing:

1). All These Things Destroy You…
2). Lost in the Fade
3). Below
4). The Ghost
5). Sum of All fears
6). A Desert of No Name
7). Three Fates
8). Sinners, Saints, and Madmen
9). All these Things (Slight Return)

The Review:

New York's premier doom outfit return here a couple of years on from “Bleed The Days”. Hal Miller, Joe Wood and Ken Wohlrob have struck back in some style here. After the opening intro of “All These Things Destroy You”, the percussive pummelling that opens “Lost In The Fade” lets the listener know they mean business: it's live and raw sounding, thick and fuzzed out. This is doom as it should be in America today; angry, abrasive and seething with an undertow of disillusionment.

As the record progresses, it becomes clear that the trio have lost none of their knack for “the riff” or self loathing. As Wohlrob asks “How low have I sunk?!” you feel the integrity in the vocal delivery. On the likes of “The Ghost”, there is a hint- well, more than a hint, of the band spreading their wings beyond traditional American Doom to encompass something that might be more akin to Fu Manchu  or even COC. Don't mistake this for a stoner album, as it is not, but there are echoes of other genres to go with the more obvious nods towards Saint Vitus et. al.

Eternal Black still know how to hammer their point home with riffs that are beaten relentlessly into the listener's consciousness and pacing quick enough to get the head nodding, but slow enough to please the most discerning doom head. “Sum of All Fears” and “A Desert of No Name” are equally blunt in their heavier than thou opening riffage, but the latter is a more dynamic affair which allows the trio to sound more than a three piece. It takes skill to do that, particularly when working in a genre that is not well known for aural subtlety. It's also excellent to hear a cowbell placed firmly front and centre on any doom track.

The close-to-three-minutes of “Three Fates” represents a creepy acoustic/electric departure with percussive flourishes that invokes Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds more than, say, Pentagram and it is an excellent change of approach and pace that allows the latter third of the album to feel like a suite in its own right. “Sinners, Saints and Madmen “is whah'd  (not a word!) out and features wonderful riffing and a soulful bent to its delivery. The jazzy inflections present on earlier work are present and correct here and lend the track a schizophrenic feel. It's sublimely played and deftly handled. The best comparison I can give is perhaps that it is akin to reading a Henry Miller novel like Plexus; it's one thing one minute and something else the next.

The closing “All These Things (Slight Return)” echoes the opening statement of the record and is just as powerful at the end as it is at the beginning. The two tracks frame the album expertly and book end the journey that plays out in between. Once again, Eternal Black have delivered an excellent record. It's wider in scope than “Bleed The Days” but delivered with equal conviction. This album is for all those people who have been jamming the new Vitus record endlessly and want some more doom... but something that bit different. Maybe it's something in the water in Brooklyn, maybe Peter Steele is still communicating from beyond the grave but whatever it is, Eternal Black have got IT and they represent the best of the American doom genre today. Masterful.

“Slow Burn Suicide” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Friday 14 June 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Full of Hell, "Weeping Choir"

By: Eeli Helin

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 14/05/2019
Label: Relapse Records

Weeping Choir” CD//DD//CS//LP track listing:

1. Burning Myrrh
2. Haunted Arches
3. Thundering Hammer
4. Rainbow Coil
5. Aria of Jeweled Tears
6. Downward
7. Armory of Obsidian Glass
8. Silmaril
9. Angels Gather Here
10.Ygramul the Many
11. Cellar of Doors

The Review:

The US noisy grindcore envoys Full of Hell are back with a blast, releasing their fourth full-length (excluding their collabs with The Body) ”Weeping Choir” on May 14th, and the first under Relapse Records. It's been two years since their previous two albums, ”Trumpeting Ecstacy” and ”Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light”, their second album with the aforementioned experimental noise duo. The band's been highly prolific throughout their ten year career, and ”Weeping Choir” sounds like a band on their apex form.

Over time, Full of Hell's sound has evolved from more straightforward, hardcore impulsed grindcore into more noisy, more death metal influenced amalgamation of styles, and the evolution has been nothing but natural. You can also hear how the band has shaped and mastered their own territory, from where they can shoot to any direction without losing themselves or their fans in the process, conveniently always keeping their core exposed. You'll also find numerous confluences between their releases, tying it all ever so elegantly together without coming across as repetitive or harping.

Weeping Choir”, as addressed by the band, is the direct continuation and mirror image of 'Trumpeting Ecstasy'. The idea is imminent since the songs share the same topics and dictums, the artworks are sort of inversions of each other and so on. The 25 minute LP ignites with "Burning Myrrh". With zero bullshit, the song eviscerates everything on it's way, churning unforgivingly for one and a half minutes before collapsing into a doomy outro glazed with haunting clean tones toward the end, fittingly proceeding straight into the second song titled "Haunted Arches". This and the following track "Thundering Hammers" continue to pillage and ravage in customary manner, giving the album one hell of a start. The next turn is slightly unexpected; "Rainbow Coil" is a longer instrumental build-up consisting of only noise and samples. 

Personally, I'm delighted that the band can pull of such an abrupt move so early on without losing the momentum at all. At this point you'll also pay attention to the production of the album. Produced/recorded by Kurt Ballou of Converge and mastered by Brad Boatright like the previous album, the overall sound is punishing but clear, keeping the grindcore identity and integrity without sacrificing itself upon the altar of messy and downright unpleasant execution.

"Aria of Jeweled Tears" picks up the pace and appears as the strongest track so far, followed up "Downward", a piece more reminiscent of the times of ”Roots of Earth Are Consuming My Home” and ”Rudiments of Mutilation”. At this point I might add, and people who like this sort of music will know what I mean, it might be hard to pick up any certain riffs or reasons to why certain tracks come across stronger than others. It's a matter of feeling and flow rather than the individual moments, which there are still many that can be clearly pointed out if necessary. A lot of these moments are sprinkled across "Armory of Obsidian Glass", the Lingua Ignota featuring gloomy and putrid magnificent oeuvre clocking nearly seven minutes, acts as a cornerstone placed precisely where it needs to be. The tracks swirls and sways between pummeling and redeeming, managing to capture a wide range of compositional dynamics and feelings to a single song. Lingua Ignota's feat is also spot on, guaranteed to give kicks to fans of either and both. Towards the end, the song introduces a new, blatantly and facetiously put, emotional side to the bands output, again proving Full of Hell to be a perennial shape shifter.

The remaining four tracks serve some of the highlights of their discography; "Silmaril" offers unexpected tempo changes and a vocal section resembling more of a moving clog in a sewer than a human. "Angels Gather Here" sounds like it could be in one of the collaboration albums with The Body, showing that Full of Hell are more than capable to rejoice in that kind of noise by themselves too. "Ygramul the Many" slaps in a saxophone solo, relating to the closer track in the Merzbow collab. "Cellar of Doors" conjures some pretty disgusting demons before offering the album an appropriate, sudden end.

Without turning this to anymore of a novel, ”Weeping Choir” is currently Full of Hell's grand work. It falls perfectly in line with all of their other releases, and continues their upward crawl back to God. What they do when they get there is unknown, but something to look forward to.

”Weeping Choir” is available here

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

Wednesday 12 June 2019

6 NEW BANDS: THE SLUDGELORD's "666 Pack Review" (May 2019)

May is here and that means a few things are afoot.  Some of you are wrapping up your studies and graduating to join the rest of us in real life misery…AND…the metal festival season is almost upon us.  Some bands are ok with hanging out in their garage and playing to their drunken friends for gratification, but others aspire to hopefully tour the world and play the summer metal festival circuit someday.  THE SLUDGELORD can’t make any promises on the latter, but what we can do is help your band get some free promotion by submitting your tunes for this monthly column even if you suck!  So, 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 “May your festival pipe dreams not suck” rating scale below: 

1 – Your garage hates you.  Just stop.  
2 – Get some wood, make a stage and steal a couple of lava lamps from a hippie for lighting effect.  This is as close you’ll get to playing a festival. 
3 – You know that local “promoter” that throws 15 local bands together and calls it a festival?  You’re good enough for that. 
4 – You need to get out on the road and push your product.  You’ll land a nice regional fest invite for sure.      
5 – Wacken Open Air holds local auditions and the winners get to invited to play this mammoth festival.   You should enter the contest next year. 
666THE SLUDGELORD should organize the sludgiest of all festivals and make you the headliner.  Wishful thinking…but…you never know???

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….

1). Kavod “Wheel Of Time” (Perugia, Italy)    Rating: 4

The comparisons to Om are warranted.

2). MA-AT “Find Evil, Feel Fine” (Cape Town, South Africa)   Rating: 2

Plodding and muddy.  Bad combination indeed…

3). Black Seal “SATI” (Delray Beach, FL, U.S.A) Rating: 2

If Kyuss was ADHD on cocaine. 

4). Inhuman Nature “Inhuman Nature” (London, United Kingdom)   Rating: 666!

Sexy thrash ala the Bay Area!

5). Sky Burial “Sokushinbutsu” (Amsterdam, Netherlands)   Rating: 3

Killer tones, but needs more drugs. 

6). Dead Sacraments “Celestial Throne” (Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.)  Rating: 5

Maybe a Dark Lord Day invite? 

Tuesday 11 June 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Lord Vicar, “The Black Powder”

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 26/04/2019
Label: The Church Within Records

It's a doom epic and a throwback to the very best records of the genre. Truly, this is a masterpiece of doom metal and a worthy addition to any doom fans collection.

“The Black Powder” CD//DD track listing:

1). Sulphur, Charcoal and Saltpetre
2). Descent
3). World Encircled
4). Levitation
5). The Temple in the Bedrock
6). Black Lines
7). Impact
8).  Nightmare
9). A Second Chance 

The Review

Lord Vicar are doom royalty, of course- comprising as they do ex-members of a couple of the most influential and greatest doom bands of all time. With an opening track timing at 17mins 16secs in the form of “Sulphur, Charcoal and Saltpetre” the band have opted for an explosive (!) start. Quiet acoustics give way to the murkiest ground out riffage after a couple of minutes and Chritus familiar vocal kicks in. Elsewhere there are tracks which run over 10mins and 8mins, so expect true doom.

Naturally, “Gates of Flesh” was similarly expansive in places, as was “Fear No Pain” and so on. This is what the band do. However, this time around the tracks on offer seem darker than ever. “Descent” takes the vibe even further downward, with Kimi's guitars stirring the blackest pitch in an already dark cauldron. It's an unsettling and in-no-way-uplifting listen. The band reference their own work and one member's previous band's work in the lyrics and everything from the double tracked vocal to the tempo shifts are sublime. This is doom perfection.

There are no rays of sun to be found in “World Encircled” either. The downtrodden feel is relentless and it's a reminder that doom is not really about occult stylings, sludge or 70's biker films at all. It's about crushing misery and despair. Saint Vitus know it, Trouble know it, Sabbath, The Gates of Slumber... they all know it too. Lord Vicar are standing on the shoulders of such giants and also standing alongside them as a modern archetype of what doom should be.

There are grooves here and there, too- it's not just a one paced pity-party. Indeed, the tracks are dynamic and organic in that they take their own path and meander through solo breaks, time changes and some very deft rhythm section interplay.

With 9 tracks on offer, this is a lot to take in on one sitting- think The Gates of Slumber'sSuffer No Guilt” opus and how hard to follow it can be until you fully assimilate it. Just like all the best records, though, the album reveals itself with repeated listens (in my case broken up into commutes both to and from work). “Levitation” plays on its title by being positively upbeat in sound compared to other tracks- but still maintains the crucial down factor throughout. More true doom follows in the form of “The Temple in the Bedrock”, this time with an up-tempo start that'll get even the most downcast head banging. It comes complete with a very down-tempo middle section, but the structure and arrangements are absolutely on point- it comes back around on itself and marks itself out as an all out rager right in the middle of the record. Excellent.

“Black Lines” brings some straightforward heaviness delivered expertly. The pace is not glacial, so this is another head-nodder that brings a 70's Sabbath feel to the album. It's deftly handled and another high point elevating the middle of the record to essential listening. Impact is lunk-headed bludgeon riffola which is again guaranteed to get your head banging and even your toe tapping. It's elemental stuff and all the more forceful for it.

Things cannot stay up forever, though, so “Nightmare” brings acoustic sadness and a militaristic middle to the record. A haunting diversion that bridges the previous rockers with the closing epic of “A Second Chance”. The band return to the bleak sound of the opening third of the album here- to great effect. It's bleak, depressing and quite beautiful in its own way.

As noted earlier, it's hard to review a record of this size and scope as it takes in so much and covers so much ground. The quality of the album will shine through on first listen, but the depths of the album can only be explored with repeated dedicated listening. It's a doom epic and a throwback to the very best records of the genre. Truly, this is a masterpiece of doom metal and a worthy addition to any doom fans collection. With that, I can only close by saying that this comes highly recommended and that you will get out what you put in. Incredible.

“The Black Powder” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Friday 7 June 2019

REVIEW: God Root & Manikineter, "“The Dirt Will Reclaim All It Has Lost”

By: Mark Ambrose

Album Type: Split 
Date Released: 01/06/2019
Label: Independent

"The Dirt Will Reclaim All It Has Lost" CS//DD track listing

1). God Root, Decay is a Womb
2). God Root, Where Life Springs Forth
3). Manikineter, We Don’t Remember Asking
4). Manikineter, Shoot the Chalice (Re-Mixed)

The Review:

Writing about metal, especially the “extreme” spectrum of metal, you don’t necessarily get to reflect on melodic beauty. I’d probably cringe if I had to look at a diagram of how often I remark on the brutality, the malevolence, the dissonance and filthy tones of the releases I get sucked into.  But the most effective moments of tension, for me at least, is hearing a group of capable musicians show off their melodic prowess and then break it into a million writhing pieces.  Maybe that’s what’s drawn me to God Root since their self-titled debut; maybe that’s what has me more excited for what they WILL be doing with each new release. It’s definitely what has me hooked on their latest, long awaited follow-up to “Salt and Rot”.  With fellow Philly cross-genre mastermind Manikineter, God Root explore the beauty in physical corruption on “The Dirt Will Reclaim All It Has Lost” by fusing harmonic vocals and harsh noise, soaring leads and thrashing low end, offering a glimpse of a band that’s thoroughly progressive but undeniably catchy.

The main course here is “Decay is a Womb”, a nine-minute opus that opens with thoroughly monastic, multi-part harmonies, crackling minor key guitar chords, and pulsing, tribal drumming.  The extreme low end vocals, which directly nod to Tuvan throat singing, are beautifully countered by the vocal triad of Joe Hues (guitar), Ross Bradley (bass) and Fred Grabosky, before the shrill noise acrobatics of Jordan Stiff and dual guitar lines of Hues and Kieth Riecke kick in.  There’s some subtle industrial crunch running through the sludge but the rhythm is never stiff.  It manages to pulsate with the biological metaphors at play.  With an intensity that vacillates between agony and jubilation, the nameless narrator intones: “I yield to the heat of decay / Rebirth between the black astral plane / In loam, a time lapse churns my body back to the earth / Swallow me. Rip me away”. It never get back to the delicacy of the opening, but the melody coursing through the song makes the furious eruption of instrumental noise and wordless screams at the end that much more gratifying.

The instrumental “bonus track” of the digital download, “Where Life Springs Forth” is an interesting ambient palate cleanser.  After the life/death/decay/rebirth themes of the first track, the synth-electronic soundscape had me thinking about Godflesh at Justin Broadrick’s most industrial moments and Eraserhead sets blasted by radiation.  This echoey nightmare doesn’t seem to evoke any humanity, or any life whatsoever.  This extended transition is a perfect bridge to Manikineter’s post-apocalyptic avant garde noise wizardry.

“We Don’t Remember Asking” opens as a near inverse of “Decay is a Womb” – a single voice intones a chant, but this isn’t the unifying uplift of “Decay” – this is quavering, extended, looping into inhuman manipulations while an intensely distorted voice rambles under layers of static.  The voice crackles on for minutes at a time, a ghost in the machine, until it’s buried under layers of synth and drum machines.  Synth bass and sparse drum machine fills emerge from the background before Carl Kavorkian’s lyrics flow out like missives from a numbers station.  With the mechanized, steady pattern of his words, it almost feels safely repetitive until a shrieking voice breaks out, describing horrific surreal images: “Despot’s Chest poked, brain in sight thru nose” really stuck with me in a viscerally unsettling way.

Manikineter’s bonus track here, “Shoot the Chalice (Re-Mixed)” is a deeply distressing noise nightmare.  If God Root’s purely instrumental track toyed with post-humanism, this is a straight out antinatalist dirge.  If there’s anything vaguely biological here, it’s the buzzing of carrion flies, the shrieks of metal and machinery that evokes pure agony, the endless looping of synthesized screams forever and ever amen.  This is advanced level noise mastery here with occasional glowing notes thrown in above the miasma.  True disciples of auditory pain will love this – others may be left cradling their precious eardrums.

As a whole, “The Dirt Will Reclaim All It Has Lost” functions how the best splits always do – it pulled me in with one thing I love and introduced me to something else I’d love to learn more about.  The fact that it does so in a cross-genre way is even more exciting and, frankly, something more “EXTREME METAL” bands should consider.  The palettes of so many seemingly disparate scenes are cross pollinating and colliding in ways that go far beyond the simplified “rap meets metal!” cover stories that flooded Hit Parader and a million other shitty magazines that littered my floor as a seventh grader.  Instead, we have two really interesting, important underground musicians on the cusp of even bigger things, both ruminating on themes of decay, loss, death, and chaos.  The fact that I want to see the ways they intersect and diverge beyond this record means I can only see this brief experiment as an unmitigated success.

“The Dirt Will Reclaim All It Has Lost” is available HERE