Monday, 19 September 2022

ALBUM REVIEW: Revocation, "Netherheaven"

By: Richard Maw
 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 09/09/2022
Label: Metal Blade Records


“Netherheaven” CD//DD//LP track listing:
 
1). Diabolical Majesty
2). Lessons in Occult Theft
3). Nihilistic Violence
4). Strange and Eternal
5). Galleries of Morbid Artistry
6). The 9th Chasm
7). Godforsaken
8). The Intervening Abyss of Untold Aeons
9). Re-Crucified (feat. Trevor Strnad & George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher)
 
 
The Review:
 
Revocation blast back to resume their place as the leading light of the tech-death/thrash masters. I’ve not followed the band fully since “Deathless” back in 2014, but I’ve dipped in and out. On that basis, I can proclaim that this is a great record- even by Revocation’s lofty standards.
 
So, the good news is plentiful here; tight and punchy sound, loads of riffs- for days and days- catchy sections and endless musical dexterity. The band, collectively, perform incredible musical gymnastics and from the very fast start, it’s obvious that they mean business. The lead work is sublime all the way through, and the drums are both technical and hooky- lots of repeated motifs and ‘framing’ of the labyrinthine structures.
 
The album is very thrashy in parts- the sections in “Nihilistic Violence” when the band puts their foot down are an aural feast of, well, nihilistic violence. The record further endears itself to me by being nine tracks long; ideal for this type of thing where a little goes a long way. The songs aren’t nine-minute exercises in repetition either; they’re punchy and brimming over with ideas and changes; leads to start “Strange and Eternal”, rhythms and guitar progressions reminiscent of “Individual Thought Patterns”… it’s pretty majestic stuff.
 
This type of music, of course, is something you build up to and get or you don’t… If you’ve been craving something a little more complex than what you’ve been listening to or have felt that traditional thrash bands don’t go far enough in terms of technicality or extremity, then this is for you. Likewise, if you are a fan of everything from Death to Arkaik or even Nile, then there will be a great deal to delve into and enjoy for you here.
 
There are no bad tracks across the nine on offer, and while they broadly conform to a type/style, there is variety in terms of tempo, rhythms and hooks. “Galleries of Morbid Artistry” employs quiet/loud dynamics and rhythmical approaches that are not just aimless blasting or thrashing. It’s different from the opener “Diabolical Majesty”- but still sounds like it belongs on the same record. There is melody here in sections of all tempos but mainly this is not an album of hooks per se. It is still memorable, but the technicality is to the fore.
 
While the band don’t quite get to the jazz infused side of a band like Atheist, again there are jazzier/fusion type elements to the playing, and this adds a light and shade to the record which would have been easy to miss out. The instrumental, “The 9th Chasm”, bears this out. I much prefer my tech-death/thrash to have these types of departures (or additions) as they make things more interesting and listenable. There are few things harder to listen to than dull death metal- either live or on record.

So, what else can be said here; the artwork is fantastic- Paulo Girardi has delivered a nightmarish sleeve (his work for latter day Manilla Road was perfect), the production and mix is superb- it’s just crystal clear- and I really can’t find any faults at all. This is a superlative example of the sub-genre and the blending of the genres involved. All hail Revocation.
 
“Netherheaven” is available HERE 

Band info: official


Saturday, 17 September 2022

INTERVIEW: Rouen blackened hardcore merchants Pilori discuss their genre bending new record

Stéphane Marry (c) @pixels.story

“Hell is only a word, the reality is much worse” Event Horizon 1997

Delivering a record with the ferocity and intensity of Pilori’s sophomore Quand Bien Meme L’Enfer et le Deluge S’abbattraient sur Nous,” roughly translated as Even though Hell and the Deluge Would Fall on Us”, makes me wonder whether the band themselves, have actually visited hell and brought this record back with them.

To experience “Quand Bien Meme L’Enfer et le Deluge S’abbattraient sur Nous“in all its hellish glory, is to imagine being wrapped up in barbed wire and thrown down a hill.  Today we have invited front man Greg from Pilori to discuss how this punishing record came to be.  



SL: Hey Greg, welcome to THE SLUDGELORD!! Could you tell our readers a little about yourself, how you started playing music, leading up to the formation of your band?

 Gr. (vocals): First of all, I wanna say 'hi !' to all the readers of this. Then, we're Pilori, we come from Rouen, in Normandy (France), and we're four lads in the band. As so many and many bands, the start of Pilori is simple and not so interesting. I know my guitarist, R., for years now and one day, at the release party of his other band, The Birds End, which is instrumental post-rock, he came to see me cause he wanna play something different, something more in his black metal/death metal/crust hardcore roots. I was fucking excited about the idea to play this kind of sounds that I loved, but even more excited to play with him cause he’s a fucking good guitarist and a fucking good guy. We began to write the first tracks, we began to looking for musicians to play with us... So it was, as simple as it seems, the beginning of Pilori. Nothing more. You see : not interesting haha !

SL: For those people unfamiliar with Pilori, are there any bands on the scene past and present that you would use as a reference point to describe your band, and who or what continues to inspire you and push you to try new things?

Gr. (vocals): I think that Pilori is a sum of a lot of different bands, of a lot of different influences. I think this is our print now, our style, and it's that people often write and say about us. You can find black and death influences, blend with some grind, chaotic and crust influences. So, I could tell about bands like Napalm Death, Entombed, Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Morbid Angel, Angelcorpse, Immortal, Watain, Rotten Sound, Darkthrone, Nails, Full of Hell, Gaza, Cult Leader... For the most recent stuffs, and also more local cause they're french, I wanna also talk about Fange, Mourir, Plebeian Grandstand, Celeste...


I just talk about bands from the scene that we really like, cause we aren't listen just extreme music. For example, I'm a huge listener of post-punk shit and there are a lot of bands who inspired me in this kind of sounds. It's the same for the other members. I really think that the other genres are opening us to new sounds and allows us to try new things.



SL: What can you tell us about your latest record “Quand Bien Même L'Enfer et le Déluge S'abattraient sur Nous” and where do you feel it sits within the context of your local scene and the wider metal scene as a whole?

Gr. (vocals) : I can tell you something simple and very cliché : we're fucking proud of it ! But I mean it a lot! When you read many interviews of many bands, especially mainstream bands, they're still proud of their new album even if it sounds like shit compared to the oldest. But it's just some promotion talks. Corey Taylor is a specialist of it, but who really think that Slipknot's new records are better than the first ones? Anyway, we're so proud of this second LP, we're proud of our writing process, of the production, the way it sounds, ‘cause we worked a lot on it, even harder than we worked on “À Nos Morts”. On our first record, nobody expecting us, and even us we don't know what we can expect. We just wanna made a LP, period. Nothing more, nothing less. For this new one, we want more haha ! We knew ourselves better, what we want to do, what we can do, and we prepare it the most that we can do. I also think that we find our own sound, our “Pilori style”, and we assume it more.

Personally, there are plenty of songs in this album that I really really like, that I like to listen to, that I like to play. I like my own voice, what I've done, which is not always the case, even if I still think that here or here I could do more, I could bo better... Regarding our local scene, in Rouen, I think that no one does the same sound or the same style as us. I also think this is real for the French scene in general. We're pretty unique haha !!! But I don't like comparison, competition, so I'll stop it right now.

SL: What was the writing and rehearsal process like for your album

Gr. (vocals): Our first LP, “À Nos Morts”, was released in May 2020, during the Covid pandemic. So we were in a dynamic, we wanna make things, and in the meantime we were very frustrated, but not resigned. We try our best to take all the opportunities to play and tour when it was possible, and we also have some times to keep writing songs with the curfew or lockdown. This first album was very well-received, so it motivated us a lot. We took this dynamic and this frustration, and, in addition to “classic” rehearsals, two times we rent an Airbnb in the Normandy countryside, in the middle of nowhere, and lock ourselves during days, to write this new album. We just played music all day long between us. After that, we keep writing and make the song arrangements from home cause it's very easy now, all the new technologies allowed it.


 

SL: What stands out as your overarching memory from the recording sessions?
 
Gr. (vocals): A lot of positive things. Really. Even if I try hard, I can't remember something negative. We were very well-prepared, we made demo of each song, we went a lot in rehearsals, and we recorded in a place that we know by heart with a guy who know us by heart (La Gare aux Musiques with Bertrand Lebourgeois, at 30 kms of Rouen). When we made our first album, we were less prepared, and, except for the drum parts, we done it in some kind of DIY spirit, ‘cause we recorded it ourselves in the super tiny home studio of our former bassist.
 
For this new record, we took more times, in a “real” studio with better stuffs, better materials, and a “real” sound guy. Everything was easier, and every one of us was super excited to play and record his parts. If I could keep just one memory, I would say the first day of guitar takes. When my drummer, my bass player and me came at the studio, our guitarist was already there and has already prepared all his stuffs with our sound guy. There were 4 cabinets with 4 amp heads and a ton of pedals around, and nearly ten mics to record all this shit. I can easily remember the smile on all our faces, and the excitation that we all felt at the moment where we started recording the guitar and when we heard that crazy sound.
 
SL: Does anything spring to mind when you think about the completion of your new album and with than in mind, how is the mood in the camp at present?

Gr. (vocals): In our camp, the mood is always good, always positive! I think that is why the things goes so well for Pilori : I've the huge chance to work with great dudes who are great friends, they all have a good mentality, a good state of mind. I'm serious, I mean it, this is the best line-up and the best people to work with. So, the mood is offensive now: we wanna do things, play a lot, defend this album anywhere and everywhere !


SL: There is often very little focus given to the album artwork, which for me is an integral part of the record, can you tell us a little about the artist, how the artwork come to fruition and your thoughts on the completed piece?  Perhaps tell us about some of your own favourite album covers?
 
Gr. (vocals): The artwork was made by an Indonesian artist, Jois Cabe. He's also the guy behind our first album cover. It's an amazing artist and a great dude, it was a real pleasure to work with him again. I've just gave him the name of the album, the meaning of it, and he can do whatever he want and feel. Our talks and exchanges were good, he quickly understood the point. Like you, the visuals are an important part of an album for me, and I really think that this artwork is the perfect fit for this album. We're very proud of it, really, we find it awesome, more than expected! And we've very good feedback on it.
To talk about my favorite album covers, I just wanna say that I've always loved covers without artist names. When you have just an artwork, a visual, and no other infos. I always found it great, that's why we do it with Pilori haha!
 
SL: With your new record completed, what are you planning as far as shows in the near future?
 
Gr. (vocals): We plan to do a lot of shows cause we love playing and touring so much. Be on the road, it's one of the thing we like the most. So it's the plan: play as much as possible, anywhere. Till the end of 2022, we already have 19 shows scheduled, in Germany, Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, and for sure, in France. Some shows and tour are also already booked for 2023. And, when we'll be tired about playing and touring, we'll do a new album !
 
SL: Finally, do you have any last words?
 
Gr. (vocals): Thanks to you for your interest, thanks to everyone who's reading this, thanks to everyone who support us in any way.  And don't forget to support your local scene and independent/underground bands. Go to the shows in the tiny club of your city, buy some merch, and keep listening to all the underground scene. It's always a thug time for this scene, and it's always getting worse and worse. So many independent venues are closing...
 
The End.

Band info: piloriband

Thursday, 15 September 2022

ALBUM REVIEW: Gargantuan Blade, "Gargantuan Blade"

By: Richard Maw
 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 04/09/2022
Label: Independent
 

“Gargantuan Blade” DD track listing:
 
1). Necromancer’s Blood
2). Black Lotus
3). Dungeon Lord
4). Spectral Pillagers
 
The Review:
 
Well, this is a pleasant surprise! This is 35mins of pure traditional doom metal from these Finnish defenders of the faith. This is not stoner and it does not have death metal inflections. If the cover art makes you think this might be a trad-metal fest or an old school DM outing, think again. This is, simply, doom metal.
 
Looking at the song lengths and titles, it’s clear that the spirit of The Gates of Slumber is alive and well; “Necromancer’s Blood”, “Black Lotus”, “Dungeon Lord”, “Spectral Pillagers”… that’s the track list and the vibe. Conan infused, Robert E Howard worshipping doom!
 
The sound is of course epic, maudlin and mournful. You get the massive and drawn-out riffs of huge weight; you get the faster passages (see “Necromancer’s Blood” and “Black Lotus” for the up tempo coda trick) and solos. This is a perfect crystallisation of how the genre should work and how it should sound- massive, raw and epic.
 
The four-piece line up makes for a satisfyingly thick sound- two guitarists mean that the solos are backed by rhythm playing which bulks things out and allows for a little interplay elsewhere. The sound and production is good- well suited to what is on offer. Even the bass can be heard correctly (as it should be in doom). The vocals of Samuel Wormius hit the right sorrowful notes while the mountainous beats of Rex Torr again capture the true spirit of the genre. They hit the right epic note again and again- “Dungeon Lord” has a touch of “Dark Avenger” about it- excellent.
 
If the above makes it seem that Gargantuan Blade are wholly derivative, that would be a little disingenuous to the band. Yes, this is doom metal- and only doom metal. However, this is not a pastiche or homage: it is doom in the purest form. When a genre is done so well and with such sincerity, issues such as originality are very much secondary compared to the quality of what is on offer. Quite simply, this is a perfect example of what traditional doom is and what it should always be. Highly recommended.
 
“Gargantuan Blade” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp

ALBUM REVIEW: Pilori, “Quand Bien Meme L’Enfer et le Deluge S’abbattraient sur Nous”

By: Richard Maw
 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 26/08/2022
Label: 7 degrees | Abyssal Cvlt | Bad Moon Rising |
Black Omega Recordings | Black Terror Distro | BRC-30
Coups de Couteau | Hecatombe Records | Itawak Records |
Black Omega Recordings | Black Terror Distro | BRC-30
Coups de Couteau | Hecatombe Records | Itawak Records |
Loner Cult | Sleepy Dog Records | Terrain Vague | Ugly & Proud Records |
Wrecking Crew Records |Total Dissonance Worship



 
 
“Quand Bien Meme L’Enfer et le Deluge S’abbattraient sur Nous” CD//CS/DD//LP  track listing:
 
1. De Guerre Lasse
2. Meurtrière
3. Entre Chien Et Loup (feat. Gabriel Dubko from Implore)
4. Maelström
5. Quand Bien Même L'Enfer...
6. Une Livre De Chair
7. Où Gisent Les Ancres
8. Au Prix De Tous Les Sacrifices
9. En Haut Des Cimes
10. ...Et Le Déluge
 
The Review:

Clearly, these French blackened crust/death/grind merchants are not trying to be as accessible as possible to non-French speakers; the titles are stretching my GCSE level of French well beyond its meagre limits. Regardless of language barriers, this is furious and ferocious stuff. There is a post metal element to their sound with dissonant guitar work rearing up now and again. The bass tone is suitably grimy, the drums thrash, blast and roll with admirable aggression and the whole experience is one of being wrapped in barbed wire and thrown down a (French) hill, perhaps landing in the moat of a chateau at the bottom.
 
The album has the speed and power to mix it with any band booked for the smaller stages at Damnation festival and the record rattles by at a fair clip. The band do what they do extremely well with real grind elements mixing with a very blackened feel, “Maelstrom” (that one I can understand!) is exactly like the title implies while elsewhere the band mixes hardcore, black metal, grindcore, post metal and punk elements to concoct a heady mixture that works.
 
It's an exhausting listen and one for fans of genre blending bands. The band are active and gigging in France- perhaps they will make the trip across from Rouen to the UK? I’m confident that everyone from crust punks to black metal fans would enjoy this both on record and in the live arena. Frightening stuff.
 
“Quand Bien Meme L’Enfer et le Deluge S’abbattraient sur Nous” is available HERE 

Band info: piloriband

Saturday, 10 September 2022

ALBUM REVIEW: Venom Inc., "There's Only Black"

By: Richard Maw
 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 23/09/2022
Label: Nuclear Blast



 
“There's Only Black” CD//DD//LP track listing:
 
1. How Many Can Die
2. Infinitum
3. Come To Me
4. There's Only Black
5. Tyrant
6. Don't Feed Me Your Lies
7. Man As God
8. Burn Liar Burn
9. Nine
10. Rampant
11. The Dance
12. Inferno
 
The Review:

Venom Inc. return after a five-year gap following the rather good “Ave” from 2017. A few things have changed since then; Mantas has survived serious heart problems and is now back to match fitness, Abaddon has departed the fold and been replaced by American Jeramie Kling while Tony ‘Demolition Man’ Dolan remains at the helm, as steadfast as ever.
 
“Ave” was a good album, but there were a few issues; the rather machine like (!) quality of the drums and a few stylistic detours meant that it was strong rather than an out and out classic. This time around, though, the band goes all out. No industrial inflections, no moody aesthetics- unless that mood is anger, of course.
 
“There's Only Black” is out and out grimy anger- Motorhead on steroids with Marshall stacks fired up to the limit, drums pounded close to breaking point and Dolan’s vocals as vital and gritty as ever. The guitar work is fantastic throughout- the lead breaks in “Infinitum” are testimony to this, the fast and furious riffing of “How Many Can Die” sets the tempo and tone. This sounds like a band playing live, effectively- with a nice natural sound to all the instruments and no fancy production sheen. It’s raw, it’s loud, it’s full of bite.
 
The heavy hits keep coming; “Come To Me”, the title track- they just steamroll the listener. There is some light and shade to be found; “Tyrant” has guitar work that is Maiden-esque in places and it offers a surprising line in melodic playing that is by no means out of place. Indeed, it is complementary to the other tracks on offer here.
 
As the record progresses, it’s clear what the band went for: balls out speed and aggression. It works so well because THIS is what we want from Venom Inc. Nobody listens to “Welcome to Hell” for subtlety. No metalhead ever played “Black Metal” or “Prime Evil” expecting pastoral soundscapes. Nope: we want the sound of the gates of hell being opened. We want to feel like we are in league with Satan and are quite prepared to lay down our souls for it.
 
Over the course of twelve tracks, the record is remorseless in its violence, relentless in its aggression. You can play any track; “Man As God”, “Inferno”, “Rampant…” literally any other track and you know what band this is. It’s a life affirming, gritty, leather encased blast of proper metal. Even “Burn Liar Burn” puts the pedal to the metal after lulling the listener into a false sense of security. By the time “Inferno” closes things out with the bludgeoning power of a bulldozer you’ll have been thoroughly convinced and thoroughly beaten down by the metallic power conjured up here.
 
Venom Inc. have become what they always were live and what they were often on record previously- they are just that all of the time here. This is highly recommended and it’s hard to imagine how this could be bettered by any version of Venom, past or present.
 
“There's Only Black” is available HERE 

Band info: facebook


Friday, 9 September 2022

ALBUM REVIEW: Hexis, "Aeternum"

By: Richard Maw
 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 26/08/2022
Label: Debemur Morti Productions



 
“Aeternum” CD//SS//DD//LP track listing:
 
1. Letum
2. Divinitas
3. Exhaurire
4. Interitus
5. Tacet
6. Accipis
7. Nunquam
8. Vulnera
9. Captivus
10. Memento
11. Amissus
12. Aeternum
 
The Review:
 
Copenhagen’s Hexis have clocked up over 800 gigs over their lifespan thus far- so hard touring seems to be part of their DNA. The rest of their DNA seems to be blackened hardcore- mixing the aggression of Agnostic Front with the sweeping wall of noise of, well, any number of Scandi-BM acts.
 
These Danes bring aggression and speed across the first two tracks and when “Letum” and “Divinitas” have given way, the dissonant and sinister tones of “Exhaurire” showcase another aspect of the band’s sound. Truthfully, it is the faster and sharper material that I gravitate towards here and there is no shortage of it; most songs clock in between one and a half and four minutes with only a handful extending this run time.
 
This is an album which sounds good- it’s clear and noisy/filthy at the same time. The post metal aspects of the band’s sound can be heard on tracks like “Vulnera”, while elsewhere the band bring weight as well as speed.
 
If you like the idea of blackened hardcore mixed with sludge and post metal elements, then this band is exactly the kind of band you might see on one of the stages at Damnation Festival that would rip the place apart. There is nothing wrong with this album at all and it is as fine an example of the melding of genres as I can think of. Vicious.
 
“Aeternum” is available HERE 

Band info: bandcamp || facebook