Tuesday, 7 September 2021

REVIEW: Blunt Horse & Grilth, "Split"

By: Peter Morsellino
 
Album Type: Split
Date Released: 16/07/2021
Label: Independent



 
“Split” CD//DD track listing:

1). Blunt Horse, “Nuke The Blow”
2). Blunt Horse, “Radiation Poisoning”
3). Blunt Horse, “No Reprise”
4). Grilth, “Foul Beast Head”
5). Grilth, “Crooked Back And Broken Spirit”
 
The Review:
 
Washington DC/San Diego based Blunt Horse teams with Buffalo NY’s Grilth on their new split EP to deliver a genre mashing head trip of epic proportions.  These two groups complement each other excellently, making for a superb listening experience for any listener with a taste for sludge inspired grooves. 
 
Blunt Horse crashes through the gate first with a fury of vintage riffing in “Nuke the Blow”.  The pace is frantic to begin with, but quickly falls into a leveled but energetic groove.  Riffs are filled with psyched out prog vibes.  Guitar and bass tracks intermingle with each other beautifully as an aggressive, yet dutiful rhythm carries the beat throughout the songs ever escalating fever pitch.  “Radiation Poisoning” offers the briefest of interludes before “No Reprise” fills the listener’s head with a continuation of the sonic assault.  “No Reprise” features a bit more of a varied sound than its predecessor, with a hard soft dynamic carrying the song through the genre hopping psychedelia of vintage tinged riffing and theatrical vocals. 
 
Next up comes Grilth, with trippy and hypnotizing riffs enveloping the listener on “Foul Beast Ahead”.  Heavy repetition with slight variation encompasses the early minutes of the track, creating a mesmerizing experience that really grips the listener.  The mix sits pretty with the band’s instruments all intermingling wonderfully with the vocals.  The second half of the track takes on a more frantic pace while adopting the same elements of hypnotic riffing.  This formula holds true for Grilth’s second offering, “Crooked Back and Broken Spirit”.  Sludgy riffing dominates the sonic air, while restrained grooves provide a thoughtful backdrop for the pained moans of the vocals. 
 
Grilth and Blunt Horse provide an excellent look at opposite sides of the same coin on this EP.  Blunt Horse taking their epic and theatrical approach to the sludge genre while Grilith provide a heavy as lead, trance inducing stupor.  It creates a listening experience filled with long play dynamics that make for a very pleasant half hour of heavy ass music for your listening pleasure.  I like to take this one in as a solid piece, which is not something that always works out on a split EP.  I absolutely recommend it. 
 
“Split” is available HERE

Band info: facebook

Sunday, 22 August 2021

ALBUM REVIEW: At The Gates, "The Nightmare of Being”

By: Richard Maw
 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 02/07/2021
Label: Century Media Records
 


 
“The Nightmare of Being” CD//DD//LP track listing:
 
1. Spectre Of Extinction
2. The Paradox
3. The Nightmare Of Being
4. Garden Of Cyrus
5. Touched By The White Hands Of Death
6. The Fall Into Time
7. Cult Of Salvation
8. The Abstract Enthroned
9. Cosmic Pessimism
10. Eternal Winter Of Reason
 
The Review:
 
At The Gates are now on the third record of the second act- or permanent comeback, if you will. I’ll be honest and state that although I was initially pleased that the band returned and enjoyed “At War With Reality” seven years ago... I haven't returned to it since. Witnessing the band live didn't really change my perspective on the band; they were good, tight, professional and all that but the band and the material seemed to lack something.
 
It is a damning indictment that I have not even heard “To Drink From The Night Itself”. Well, regardless of my misgivings about the band's last seven years, they are still here and they are still forging forward. I would also like to clarify that I rate “Slaughter of the Soul” as one of the best metal albums ever- not just death metal; all metal. It was and is an incredible album- made by young men in a very different time. The songs, the hooks, the production- it all coalesced into a superb record. A classic, in fact.
 
“The Nightmare of Being”, then, occupies an odd space. It is the third second-act album, so no resting on comeback goodwill is to be had. The good news is, it's different, progressive in places. The song writing is tight and focused, a 45min playing time indicates that would be the case. The loss of Anders Bjorler has left his twin Jonas remaining to do the heavy lifting with the song writing- not so much of a problem, as it turns out.
 
I loved The Haunted's albums with Marco Aro on vocals- that straightforward thrash, close to death metal, even- suited me well at the time, but it was by no means ATG pt 2 and the Bjorlers were not the main or only songwriters. “The Nightmare of Being” is not close to that band- this is philosophical in theme, gloomy in outlook and surprisingly textured. There is saxophone on “Garden of Cyrus”, there is piano elsewhere. There is even a string quartet- bizarre, but true. When Ihsahn incorporated such elements in his solo work it was a huge surprise, and to be fair it is a pretty big surprise here, all these years later.
 
Make no mistake, though, this is a death metal album at its core- from the acoustic intro to the weight elsewhere on opener “Spectre of Extinction”, to the thrashy “The Paradox” it is metal. Yes, there are of course echoes of “SotS” in the changes and tempos, but Tompa's voice has dropped down a little and is a more measured bark these days. There are moodier moments throughout the record- it's sombre and dark and the instrumental passages shimmer and ripple like a muddy pool under the moonlight.
 
At ten tracks, the length and pace is right and the sound is great. How to rate this, then? It's tough as there is nothing wrong with any of this- it is pretty bold of a band like At The Gates who could easily just rest on their 1995 laurels forever to be making fairly experimental records. As such, this is the better of the two comeback albums I have heard- by far. It's totally solid, none of the extra elements feel forced and the songs are good. This is, for me, a solid seven out of ten type album- so not flawed genius and some filler and not bubbling under what was expected either. It's just... good.
 
Whether any of this is what you want from At The Gates, only you can decide. I applaud the band for spreading their wings and this is exactly the record they need to make at this stage, I think. A surprise, in a good way.
 
“The Nightmare of Being” is available now 

Band info: facebook || Official


Tuesday, 10 August 2021

ALBUM REVIEW: Stonekind, "Spirit of the Void"

By: Peter Morsellino

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 11/06/2021
Label: Salem Stone Records



 
“Spirit of the Void” DD track listing:
 
1. Ashes, Pt. 1 
2. Ashes, Pt. 2 
3. Spirit of the void 
4. Nowhere's home 
5. Untethered
6. Swamp stomp 
7. Dust 
8. Behold the stone 
9. Nomadic
 
The Review: 
 
Mixing a heavy progressive rock sound with a distinct stoner rock groove, North Carolina’s Stonekind offer up a uniquely haunting sound that must be heard to be fully appreciated. With a fuzzed-out desert rock base to work from, “Spirit of the Void” mixes genres into a finely balanced witches brew that is sure to delight anyone in search of a new sonic experience.  
 
Stonekind’s emotive sound stems straight from the heart, and that comes across fully on the album’s finished product. You can tell at first glance that the musicians involved threw themselves wholly into this project. Songs are masterfully crafted into full spectrum musical experiences that will take listeners on a journey. I can’t stress enough how much heart is presented in each bit of this album. It feels special and it invites the listener to become a part of it.       
Songs like “Swamp Stomp” showcase the band’s heavy grooves while offering up high doses of psychedelia for listeners to revel in. Grooves are infectiously catchy and easy to get into. This is an album that you can dance to all night long. Best experienced, in my opinion, in one solid listen, the musical experience that Stonekind  
offers up is simply extraordinary. It’s a sound that you can completely lose yourself in.         
 
I would recommend this one to anyone who might be suffering a bit of a lull in their musical enjoyment. This is exactly the type of thing that will get listeners out of the deepest of ruts. A varied mash of genres coming together to create something new and wonderful. Give it a listen. You will not regret it.       
 
“Spirit of the Void” is available HERE 

Band info: Facebook || Bandcamp || Instagram
 


Tuesday, 13 July 2021

ALBUM REVIEW: Kollapse, "Sult"

 By: Peter Morsellino
 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 25/06/2021
Label: Fysisk Format | Dingleberry Records |
 Maniyax Records | Virkelighedsfjern



 

“Sult” DD//LP track listing:

1. Drift (05:18)
2. Knæler (06:00)
3. Drukner (07:41)
4. Byrd (05:24)
5. Libido (05:27)
6. Der Hvor Jeg Tænker Er Der Altid Mørkt (11:32)

The Review:

Kollapse’s “Sult” album is heavy as shit.  There is a lot more to it than that, but there it is.  If you enjoy heavy ass music, you’re going to want to check this out.  If you don’t like heavy music, well, let's chat about why you should listen to Kollapse anyway. 

This Danish trio comes together to create an enormous sound that is difficult to imagine coming from such a small troupe.  The sound is frankly massive.  It is layered, yet organic and has enough depth to warrant repeated listens to peel back each piece and examine a new facet of the sonic assault. 

While heavy grooves abound throughout “Sult”’s runtime, it is the highly emotive and thoughtful softer pieces that are speckled across the album that really create something special.  Songs like “Drukner” speak to a higher plain of music that welcomes the listener into its arms and engulfs them in the thick atmosphere of angst. 

“Sult” crafts an air of emotion and mystery around itself that can be difficult to decipher upon first listen.  This by no means should discourage listeners from giving it a shot.  The album sounds wonderful and provides more than enough material that the listener will want to return to, but repeated listens will allow for a better understanding and more appreciative listening experience.  This is one that the mind can really dwell on.  Give it a listen for sure.

“Sult” is available HERE

Band info: Facebook || Bandcamp || Instagram

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

ALBUM REVIEW: Go Ahead And Die, "Go Ahead and Die"

 By: Peter Morsellino
 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 11/06/2021
Label: Nuclear Blast



 
“Go Ahead and Die” CD//DD//LP track listing:
 
1. Truckload Full Of Bodies
2. Toxic Freedom
3. I.C.E. Cage
4. Isolated/Desolated
5. Prophet’s Prey
6. Punisher
7. El Cuco
8. G.A.A.D.
9. Worth Less Than Piss
10. (In The) Slaughterline
11. Roadkill
 
The Review:
 
Aggressive and powerful, Go Ahead And Die strikes out to create something of its own in the face of expectations.  The illustrious history of the band’s father-son duo of Max and Igor-Amadeaus Cavalera will surely pique the interest in fans hearing of the band for the first time and color the expectations of listeners awaiting their first taste of the beast.  
 
The Self-Titled album features a viciously heavy blend of Death Metal and Thrash that is sure to delight fans of early Death Metal pioneers.  The album does have a distinctly modern feel to it though, proving itself as more than a mere tribute act to the sound that came before it. 
 
Igor cements himself here as a force to be reckoned with, taking center stage at various points of the album.  There will be detractors claiming this to be a novelty project of Cavalera senior, but upon first listen, there is no doubt that Go Ahead And Die is the real deal.  With the blistering speeds and memorable grooves present, this is one that can be listened to repeatedly.
 
I would be hard pressed to say that new ground is being broken here, but what is presented is just about as solid as it comes.  I would highly recommend it to any fan of old school death metal and the heavier reaches of thrash.  If nothing else, give this one a listen and quell your curiosity.  I do not think you’ll regret it.  
 
“Go Ahead and Die” is available HERE

Band info: facebook

Monday, 5 July 2021

REVIEW: Supreme Conception, "“Empires of the Mind” [EP]

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 06/08/2021
Label: Independent
 



“Empires of the Mind” DD track listing:
 
1). “Beyond the Antediluvian”
2). “Harboring The Fractured Transcendence”
3). “Transgression I: The Underlying Identity”
4). “Transgression II: Self-Discovery”
5). “On The Path To Divinity”
 
 
The Review:
 
Technical death metal is surely a divisive genre- incomprehensible to many, pointless to some and to others... godly. Godly, that is, when it is done well. Fortunately, Supreme Conception are excellent. The production of these five tracks is crystal clear, the playing razor sharp, the vocals growling. Indeed, the vocals remind me- perhaps somewhat incongruously of a certain Glenn Benton in many places. 
 
From the opener “Beyond the Antediluvian” to the closing “On The Path to Divinity”, this is a technical tour de force. It is fast, furious, and pretty relentless. This Czech two-man project have put out only this and a release back in 2009; it is not a problem when the music is this good, though. If you are a fan of tech-death in all its forms, you will find what you like about the genre here in this five track stormer of an EP.
 
“Empires of the Mind” is available HERE 

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

ALBUM REVIEW: Boss Keloid, "Family The Smiling Thrush"

By: Peter Morsellino
 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 04/06/2021
Label: Ripple Music



 
“Family The Smiling Thrush” CD//DD//LP track listing:
 
1. Orang of Noyn
2. Gentle Clovis
3. Hats the Mandrill
4. Smiling Thrush
5. Cecil Succulent
6. Grendle
7. Flatt Controller
 
The Review:
 
With a swirling tempest of psychedelia, Boss Keloid return with “Family the Smiling Thrush”.  Crafting a sonic experience that is difficult to define, Boss Keloid provides the listener with something to think about, but not without providing the solid grooves that they have come to be known for over the years. 
 
There is no simple way to describe the music of Boss Keloid to the uninitiated.  There are elements of psychedelia intermingled with a strong progressive rock influence, backed by a heavy stoner metal groove, but the sound encompasses so much more than that.  There is something completely intangible that helps Boss Keloid stand out amongst their peers, and that something is displayed in full force on “Family the Smiling Thrush”.
 
Songwriting is the star of the show throughout the album, with arrangements weaving intricate webs through the listener’s mind.  Meticulously crafted structures rise and fall with a hard soft dynamic that gives “Family the Smiling Thrush” its mysterious sound.  At times, I was briefly reminded of Tool or Mastodon, yet these comparisons fail to even breach the surface of what Boss Keloid is presenting, and in truth do the band’s music a disservice. 
 
What comes across through the speakers here is something entirely unique.  A melding of genres as vast as the sound it creates.  Truly something that is greater than the sum of its parts.  “Family the Smiling Thrush” is very much something that needs to be heard to be fully appreciated.  Expect thoughtful passages exemplified by heavy grooves with a thick, hazy atmosphere of the unknown.  Give this one a listen.
 
“Family The Smiling Thrush” is available HERE 

Band info: bandcamp || facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: Bossk, "Migration"

By: Richard Maw
 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 18/06/2021
Label: Deathwish Inc



 
“Migration” CD//CS//DD//LP track listing:
 
1). White Stork
2). Menhir (feat. Johannes Persson)
3). Iter
4). HTV-3 (feat. Josh Mckeown)
5). Kibo
6). Lira
7). Unberth
 
The Review:
 
Bossk hail from Ashford, Kent and are seemingly named after a Star Wars character? I have heard the band name, but not their music. I've been to Ashford once and didn't great vibe from the place, so on that basis it seems perfectly plausible that a great band could come from there. Well, Bossk are that band.
 
I suppose I could describe this as post-metal- but with some sludge elements, some ambience and a pretty abstract approach to the songs in general. Opener “White Stork” has a lot more in common with Massive Attack than it does with Metallica, that is for certain- so forget endless riffs and catchy hooks or other stylistic metal tropes. “Menhir” brings the metallic sounds and riffs with some twists and turns into groove and atmospheric territory to boot- but this is not recognisable as metal, per se.
 
On that basis, the first two tracks give an interesting idea as to how the album may proceed. It covers a lot of ground and for reference points, I must reference the only bands who I have really heard who are in roughly the same part of the Venn Diagram; Neurosis, Cult of Luna... The Ocean, perhaps? I'm out of my depth here, having spent the last few days listening to Blind Guardian (and not enjoying it much, I have to add)- but this unpredictable and challenging listen is just what I needed.
 
There are more ambient sounds scattered through the record (“Kibo”, for instance), more mountainous heaviness (“HTV-3”) and in the final two tracks, “Unberth” and “Lira” there are more expansive track lengths to allow the band to flex all aspects of their sound. They each sound like they could soundtrack a film set in a dystopian future.
 
As is always the case with albums of this breadth, I suspect he hidden depths will only be revealed by repeated listens.  This is not an accessible metal record – or even an accessible post metal one.  It combines the esoteric nature of a band like Om with the expanses that the aforementioned bands excel at.  It is engaging, ambitious and unpredictable – even confounding – and I would recommend fans of any of the aforementioned reference point bands to give it a try.
 
“Migration” is available HERE


Band info: bandcamp || facebook

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

ALBUM REVIEW: Fear Factory, "Aggression Continuum"

By: Richard Maw
 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 18/06/2021
Label: Nuclear Blast



 
“Aggression Continuum” CD//DD//LP track listing:
 
1.  Recode
2.  Disruptor
3.  Aggression Continuum
4.  Purity
5.  Fuel Injected Suicide Machine
6.  Collapse
7.  Manufactured Hope
8.  Cognitive Dissonance
9.  Monolith
10.  End Of Line
 
The Review:
 
Back in the dark days of 1995, Fear Factory truly sounded like the future. “Demanufacture” was a monster of an album which featured a then-ground breaking mixture of harsh and clean vocals, pro-tools production and computer processed sounds, industrial tinges and some truly memorable songs. Cazares, Bell, Hererra and Olde-Wolbers seemed like it might be them who usurped Metallica with their science fiction, weaponised, mechanised version of heavy metal... except, things didn't work out like that.
 
The band followed up “Demanufacture” with very pale imitation albums, lost their place at the vanguard of metal via the rise of nu metal, line-up changes and the plain old bitter pill of missed opportunities. The tension and fractures within the band are well known so “Aggression Continuum” sees Burton C Bell appearing on the album and delivering a very good performance, but no longer a member of the band for the album's release. Completed by the very capable rhythm section of Tony Campos (bass) and Mike Heller (drums), this record HAD to be good.
 
The good news, though, is that the record is very good! The last FF album, “Genexus”, was also good and saw me regain interest in the band back in 2015 (is it that long?!). “Mechanize”, half a decade prior, was serviceable and of course lifted up a level by Gene Hoglan's involvement. The band have thus put out a couple of good albums over the last decade. I haven't heard “The Industrialist”- and I'm sure the band would understand my stance against human beings being replaced my (drum) machines. They still plough their futuristic furrow and bring to mind Robocop, 2000AD, Terminator and Terminator 2 with most tracks.
 
So, “Aggression Continuum” picks up where “Genexus” and, indeed, “Demanufacture” left off. It is pummelling (“Recode”), it's machine like. It has synths. It has solos (“Monolith” has a great one), it is inhumanly precise and has all the best hallmarks of what makes Fear Factory unique and a top tier metal band.
 
If you want aggression, there is plenty of it- “End of Line” is a relentless finisher and jam packed with the types of production quirks you expect from the band. “Fuel Injected Suicide Machine” sounds exactly like it could have been on “Demanufacture” and sit proudly with the likes of “H-K (Hunter Killer)”, albeit with a melodic chorus that echoes synth wave as much as metal. In fact, the synth wave genre or even sound-tracks (Carpenter et. al.) looms large here. Fear Factory have managed to conjure up the same bleak, robotic atmosphere and it is an aural delight.
 
Fear Factory have been writing about a dystopian future in which the population is tightly controlled and humanity is threatened by technology for decades now. It is sublime timing that this album should see the light of day when these things are happening more blatantly than ever before, and it seems that the band have captured the zeitgeist once again. Where they go from here is anyone's guess. Bell has gone, apparently never to return. It is a shame and a lamentable bookend to his time with the band- he IS the voice of Fear Factory and he and Cazares made some incredible music together.
 
“Aggression Continuum” is available HERE 

Band info: Official


Tuesday, 22 June 2021

ALBUM REVIEW: Chestcrush, "Vdelygmia"

By: Peter Morsellino
 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 14/07/2021
Label: Independent
 


“Vdelygmia” CS//CD//DD track listing:
 
1). The Ingester
2). Different Shepherd Same Sheep
3). Grudge
4). Theocracyst
5). Burden
6). Let Them Crawl
7). Skullcrush
8). Vothrodoxia
9). Vaptizetai O Doulos
 
 
The Review:
 
 
With their first full length album, “Vdelygmia”, Edinburgh’s Chestcrush set out to stake a claim to the throne of the Blackened Death Metal world.  Meaning abomination, filth, or repulsion, “Vdelygmia” is the perfect title to describe what it is the listener is about to hear. 
 
Chestcrush come out the gate strong.  A very creepy ambient introductory track gives way to the bludgeoning punishment of proper opener, “Different Shepherd, Same Sheep”.  This track provides a solid thesis for the album, acting as an overture towards what is to come.  We are presented with an incredibly heavy sound, combining elements of Death Metal with Black Metal and Grindcore.  Tempos shift from a sludgy grind to passages of blistering speed with ease.  A strong sense of dread is present throughout each track, creating an unsettling atmosphere that pairs perfectly with the darkness of Chestcrush’s lyrical themes. 
 
Other stand out tracks include “Theocracyst”, with its slowly picked introduction lulling listeners to a false sense of security before beating them over the skull with the pounding rhythms that the young band will certainly become known for.  “Let Them Crawl” is a positively evil sounding track, that I am sure could summon the devil himself with its swirling dynamics and crushing grooves. 
 
Chestcrush presents its own unique brand of Death Metal to listeners at the breakneck speeds that are to be expected from the genre, but that is not that the sound is without heart.  Each track brings together a range of emotion, preventing the songs from falling into the cold trappings of soulless blast beats and guitar soloing.  Each note is presented with purpose here, creating a musical experience that will last long after the first listen.
 
“Vdelygmia” is not an album for the faint of heart.  This falls securely into the range of music that can peel the paint off of walls.  It can crush skulls (and chests, I suppose,) and lay waste to the surroundings of your sound system.  But if pounding rhythms and searing leads are what you are looking for, then you will not want to sleep on Chestcrush.  Give it a listen.
 
 
“Vdelygmia” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook