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Eeltis the second release from Spanish loud kids Absenta, released in early 2016. Absenta (unfortunately) describe Eel as “Post Black ‘n’ Roll Metal”. I was ready to cringe, but their apparent desire to let nature rise up and destroy mankind and retake the earth and seas was very compelling- this album is primarily concerned with the seas. Absenta’s brand of metal is a bit strange: the songs are written in English, but delivered in resonant growls and gruff singing and emphasised in a way that makes it difficult to understand the words- there are lyrics in the booklet. Eel is also a bit cleaner and more traditionally-mixed than most black metal, so it sounds sleek and a little creepy. The whole album sounds sort of like the soundtrack to an eel swimming through dark water, which is just fine with me. Drumming is sometimes rock, sometimes blast-beat, and sometimes a little martial. Synths are weird at times, particularly on the first track. There are also guitars, which go through various flavours of metal and rock. The overall impression is one of strange black metal, with a vague sense of worship but no references to Satan.
‘Burying Another Part Of Our Soul’ (track 2) is my favourite, largely due to the vocals, but ‘Eel’ (tr. 5) gets points for being about mutant eels taking their revenge for a human dam that disrupted their mating practices (“Clog all their pipes! Kill ‘em all!”).
Besatt are a four-part Polish black metal band, but their name means “possessed” in Swedish and Norwegian (hero worship, probably). Besatt have been around since the late nineties, and Impia Symphonia was originally put out on Warheart Records (Perdition, Graveland) in 2015, but we’ve got the Red Stream, Inc. reissue. That’s Hollee Hazard/Hazzard/Kohl on the front, by the way- credit where credit is due.
The whole thing starts off with wind noises, which is a good sign in my world. The wind is joined by guitars, then a wolf howling, and then drums. I hear it’s cold in Poland. There is at times a somewhat unusual, more traditional “rock” sound to the guitar work. Besatt features some instances of male vocal harmonising (chanting on track 2, singing on t. 5), but it’s mostly guys yelling in/at snow. The guitar parts can actually be quite pretty, especially on t. 3 and 5. Addicts of necrotic sound might find this album unsatisfying, but creatures who seek out more depressive stuff should do alright. The songs are all in Polish, but I’m pretty sure they’re largely about Satan. There are lyrics in the booklet, so you can just look at the pretty pictures and tell people that you did your homework.
Bagman is recognisably British, seemingly with a very traditionalist approach, and it’s not just the BBC samples. The first track is where this is most audible, and it is also apparent in his choice of subjects, who are all from the UK. Bagman’s vocal delivery is sometimes rather calm yet still impossible to understand, which is not something you hear much these days. He also employs the screechy ‘what did Mummy say?!’ falsetto at times. I do love a good traditional piece. The electronics range from buzzing to screeching to zaps. Sutcliffe Jugend, Whitehouse, etc.. ‘Derrick Bird’ in particular is really delightful. Pip pip.
Striations (Oakland) presents his first release, which has a stronger focus on sexuality and a particular emphasis on subjects who targeted women. Striations’ style is characterised by a sense of restraint (in its execution) and control, though it is not minimalistic. Those tracks which reference specific killers explore Jerome Brudos, a clothing fetishist obsessed with womens’ shoes and underwear, and Dennis Rader, loving father of two and the BTK Killer (that’d be ‘Bind, Torture, Kill’, kids). Rader’s track features his infamously familiar testimony, in which he calls his primary victims by their first names and describes their encounters with strikingly delicate language, while Brudos’ is a laundry list of acts and victims read by a woman. Electronics slither, rotate, screech and whine. Sometimes they sound distressed and suffering, at other times they approach music like an orchestra tuning. Always wait until after the deed is done.
An aural tribute to history geekdom and environmentalist hipster rage. ‘Bound Oak and Ashen Grain’ is a compilation of two previous Nyodene D releases: the ‘Atop Masada’ cassette and ‘Mouths That Reap the Harvest’ LP. We currently have neither.
Sida A deals with honour and rebellion during the First Jewish-Roman War, with emphasis on the Sicarii and their weird obsession with killing people to spite the Romans. Side B is about humans (represented by rats) plundering Earth out of greed, and how they will inevitably get the devastating end they have coming to them. It also has an Elder Futhark runic divination theme. Lyrics for both sides are printed on the insert.
It’s death industrial: too structured for noise, too pretty for power electronics. Our test group described it as sounding like ‘being tuned between stations’ and ‘applause, but far away’. Long tracks, distorted dirge vocals, a little bit of melodic sensibility, and a preference for analog noise-tools and unusual instruments (Side A makes use of a mellotron, B3 has a trumpet).
Side A is the the more ambient of the two, and the long track lengths (about fifteen minutes each) allow enough time for sinking in, one way or another. They have a slow, sort of pulsing structure and crumbling, smoldering feel that can pull you in or make you sick. A2 (‘Sicarii’) is my favourite of the two.
Side B is a little angrier and ritualistic with its war-drums, layered vocals and shrieking synths, but it also feels more focused (and is preferred by yours truly). B1 clocks in at about 14:27, but B2 and B3 are more manageable at around seven minutes each. B2 has guest vocals by Stephen Petrus (of Murderous Vision) and employs the classic ‘we raped Mother Earth’ imagery loved by angry hippies across the musical spectrum. Again, B3 has a trumpet on it. Respect the trumpet.
This 2009 release, from Australia-based Isomer, is sometimes ambient, sometimes harsh, and always noisy and dark. Isomer works mainly (possibly exclusively) with electronics and samples, ranging from more soundscape-type tracks to power electronics (track 10 in particular) and vaguely martial sounds (tracks 3, 5, and 9). While electronics are at the forefront, there are occasional, disturbing glimpses of life in the form of unintelligible chanting crowds (track 2), distorted speech (tracks 3 and 5), and creepily out-of-place cheerful music (tracks 4 (sounds like it??imightibe a distorted “Mack the Knife”), 6, 7, 11), and what sounds like jungle animals (track 5). The title track (8) really stands out for its much calmer, more traditional beauty. It sounds like it should be accompanying a slow panning shot over a desolate landscape, perhaps a battlefield or another planet. Track 11 has some of this as well, but all its gentle guitar strumming just makes it more uncomfortable.
Face Toward The Sunibrings to mind a shadow world, one where great hulking machine-monsters tower over decaying cities as they wander slowly on stilt legs, blocking out the sun and raining ash down into the empty courtyards and squares. It’s creepy, brooding, atmospheric, and industrial is what I’m saying.
Shitfucker are Daemonbitch (B-assfucker, SSatanic SSemitic SSemen SSummons (bass, vox)), Zyklon-T (Guitarrrgghh!, Necrotic Erotica and Sex Organ (guitar), known in most of his other work as Shagrat), and Styx Chizzler (Deranged Drum Damager, Serial Cymbal Abuser (drums), more commonly called “Motor City” Chaz). They describe themselves as “MANIAC BLACK METAL-PUNK FROM THE MOTOR CITY” (capitalization theirs). These guys areifun. Lyrics cover all forms of depravity, from devil worship to deviant sex to serial killers to telling off your neighbours/landlady/family/friends when they complain that you’re rocking too hard. The original cover design was banned in Germany (and probably France) for what they call a shiswastifa (you’ll know it when you see it). They recommend listening toiSuck Cocks In Helliwhile you perform an auto-erotic asphyxiation/disembowelment suicide. Their fans are called the Shit SS. It’s that kind of show.
Kind of like a cross between Motorhead and Abigail with some Sabbat and Venom mixed in. The fidelity is pretty low on this, which only adds to its diseased, effluvial charm. It has plenty of the heavy metal guitar work you would expect, with no noodly solos. Vocals are largely growly, although there is also plenty of shrieking and some cleaner singing (“Sex Dungeon” even has some high-pitched “oo-ooh” back-up). Drums are fairly simple, with blast-beats being a common feature. The bass is good, but not featured as heavily as guitar (although it does get some attention on “Go To Hell”). My personal favorite has to be “Acid Bath” because I’m a bit of a Dahmer fan, but “Go To Hell” and “I Am Of The Devil” are also contenders. “Satantisanity” is an instrumental, and “Yinastinatas” is the same instrumental in reverse. They’re both kinda pretty.
Miscreant is a San Jose power electronics duo whose members are known as LDML and SNT. Anger with a target- Kill Their Babiesiis part warning and part taunt to those in power in America, as stated on the back cover through a quote from Obadiah 1:3: “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?”. Political corruption, xenophobia, blind patriotic zealotry, power-mad cops, the horrors of war, and religious fanaticism are all covered… maybe. While the aggression, frustration, and dissatisfaction come through loud and clear, the exact causes behind them are left open to interpretation.
Although there are samples of speech, one can only catch snippets of what’s being said- an official’s address to the public, something about Mexico and “get your own country”, statements of “God bless America” (side I). Behind that there is the ominous electronic noise which builds, dissipates, shrieks, grinds, and barks over desperate cries and the bravado of government officials, as well as occasional distorted shouted vocals from Miscreant themselves. Although both sides of the tape are similar in style, they are still two distinct tracks, with side one I slightly more organized and harsh, whereas side II has more despair to it, such as a distorted “help me, God, I think I’m gonna die” followed immediately by fervent talk of redemption as those whose God has failed them are quickly forgotten. Let us consider, now, another quote: “How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!” (2 Samuel 1:27)- a lament for some, a victory cry for others.
Sete Star Sept (meaning seven star seven, evidently a pachinko term) is Kiyasu (drums) and Kae (vox/bass) describe themselves as noisegrind. They’re Japanese. SSS is grindcore for people who find grindcore too structured. The tracks on this side (titledxSupplication) are short blasts of noise, with vocals consisting mostly of the familiar screeching, growling, and pig noises we have come to associate with many of the x-core genres. Track 5 is an exception, which sounds panicked and distinctly female, is either in Japanese or gibberish, and has a somewhat more traditional punky sound. This split 7″ is an exclusive release of theirs, sold only on the Sete Star Sept 2014 North American Tour.
Lotus Fucker are based in DC and may be vegan. Their numbers are unknown. This side (aptly calledxDestroy All Music Now) consists of 70 (yes, really) staccato blasts of screeching machine noises, angry instrumentals, and human throat sounds that have longer titles than play times. The styles of the many tracks are actually rather varied while still working together as a cohesive side-long nightmare, running the range from barking and drumming to more industrial and even (almost) ambient moments. The whole side runs for about six-and-a-half minutes, so it’ll only hurt for a moment; just close your eyes, it will be over soon.
T.O.M.B. (Total Occultic Mechanical Blasphemy) have returned with more creepy, industrial ambient field-recording-powered black chaos worship. It sounds like a bunch of people hitting stuff with pipes in a large, empty room, because that’s partially what it is. UAG (Uncovered Ancient Gateways) was recorded ‘between March/August 2009 at various “disclosed” locations in the U.S.A.’, according to T.O.M.B.. The artwork in the included booklet suggests at least one religious and one medical structure.
Aside from the distorted banging and crashing, there are some even more distorted vocals that sound like wailing wights and the screaming of tortured souls. While some of T.O.M.B.’s other recordings had more overt metal elements, UAG is pretty straight black industrial ambient. Highly atmospheric, UAG (and T.O.M.B. in general) creates a sense of dread and ritualism, like opening a gateway into realms unknown. It feels cold. Play it with the lights off.
Raw, low-rent Japanese black metal. Manierisme is a one-man show run by Jekyll, who seems to have perfected the frown-and-glare. This release from Nekrokult Nihilism is full of weird sounds, unfocused noise, and black metal angst.
At over an hour, Manierisme’s self-titled release seems a little bloated. It also sounds like complete garbage, in terms of recording quality. This cannot be overstated: Manierisme sounds like it was recorded in Jekyll’s garage, then bootlegged by teenagers in some cold third-world country who played it through a tin can and recorded it with a potato (for the worst (or best) example, go for “Collapse Prelude”).
It has distorted Japanese speech, ticking clocks, growls, howls (“Koware Kuruu Ningyo No Akumu”), weird layered voices (particularly on “The Secret Garden”, where they are surprisingly soothing), strangulated choking noises (“Monochrome”), Gollum vocals (“Scenery That Goes to Ruin”), and grave recitations. The guitar has a sort of lilting quality at times (but is mostly a thrashy wall of distortion squared), “Waltz at Last Moment” does indeed sound like a waltz, and “In Dear Memories” is strangely pretty and chased by a hidden track full of twinkling that sounds like a song from the old country. It’s an odd piece of work.
Skinned, grinding, bleeding
Guitar attack, torn throat roar
Bet you squeal real good
More goregrind from The Nutzz Recordzz. Goretorngroin is one man, Generalissimo, and makes (ab)use of vocals, guitars, bass, and a drum machine. Waste Pig is two guys: Boargore and Pigclit (they’re on the inside, FYI), who provide “guitars & low vocal squeals” and “drums & high vocal squeals”, respectively. At this point you should know exactly where you stand on this split.
Born to Die??is dirty and aggressive, as it should be, and both sides provide a fairly good balance of excretion and secretion. Focus is placed on thrashing, distorted guitar work and blast-heavy drumming. Goretorngroin sounds a bit deeper and more restrained, whereas Waste Pig is thrashier. Tracks are mostly short, with Waste Pig providing the meatier cuts on the tape. Personally, I thought Waste Pig better overall, but Goretorngroin’s demonic rumbling is less distracting than Waste Pig’s squeals (RRRREEEEE!) and Generalissimo putsxIt’s Always Sunny in Philadelphiaxsamples (“I will eat your babies, bitch!”) to good use on “Brain Splatter”.
In short: It’s goregrind. You kids like goregrind? Here you go.
Ryan Huber is a producer of noise and the man behind Inam Records. His aliases include Sujo and Olekranon. AlthoughxHarkenx(an archaic word for “listen”) lacks the metallic taste of some of his other releases under various names, it is still on the darker side of electronic ambient/drone/noise. This is not to say that it does not sound bright at times, but even these moments have a harshness to them.
Determining whetherxHarkenxis noise or drone or ambient or something else entirely is beyond the scope of this review (if it is possible at all), butI will say that it has elements of all of these genres. “Spectrum 7″ is drone with hiccups, “Weade” is almost dance-y until it discorporates into noise at the end, “Pahlavia” is ambient, and “Blind Coup” is harsher noise-type stuff, but not that harsh. The title track is the most complex, moving through a building rumble like a thunderstorm into crackling electric glow into drones into ascension and descent.
Vitae Iactura, meaning “waste of life”, is the primary release from black metal Hayward kids Xenotaph. So kvlt you can smell the corpsepaint, Xenotaph is a trio consisting of a drummer (G), a guitarist/vocalist (Z), and a guitarist/bassist/effectsperson (R). Our version of the cassette was put out by Transylvanian Tapes and recorded at Earhammer Studios, so it’s all local. This is cold, cold metal, very much influenced by all those troubled young men in Scandinavia (Darkthrone is a popular comparison). Tracks last between six and eight minutes, providing enough time to sink into them properly.
Instrumentations consists largely of guitar riffs and blast-beats, but there are also many slow, creepy portions to bring on the despair. ‘Violation’ has particularly infectious drumming, and the guitars take on an interesting, almost Eastern-European folk quality at times while retaining the metal character. Vocals are sometimes moaned, sometimes growled, sometimes barked, and always raspy and hoarse. Lyrical themes include not limiting oneself by bending to the will of society, blasphemous rituals, and avenging animal rage.
‘Descending’ is an instrumental, effects-heavy soundscape. The trees. The wind. The crunching of snow beneath your feet, the sound of shadows as they stretch bare branches into dark claws that reach slowly across the blue-and-white ground. It’s all there, it’s eerie, and it’s beautiful. Follow the voices.
Lord Mantis are a quartet of dudes from Chicago. They create sludgy, blackened metal and produce controversy as a byproduct. There is a warm, visceral, meaty quality to Death Mask, as suggested by the cover art, but it still sounds very slick and clean (in terms of production). Distorted guitars, occasional blast-beats, and sneering, bared-teeth anger are still present- it is metal, after all. The tracks tend to be on the longer side, averaging slightly under seven minutes. FCCs on tracks 1, 2, 3, and 5.
Vocals are generally discernible, but not clean, and tend more towards screaming than growling. Track 5 features Dylan O’Toole of Indian providing guest vocals with hints of mommy issues and sexual trauma. Those who want something prettier may look to track 4: a nice little guitar and more-heavily-processed guitar instrumental, accompanied by some background static.
There are also doom and industrial sides to Lord Mantis, which are most present on tracks 1 and 6, respectively. The latter is a slower piece, with recited lyrics processed to the point of mechanization and use of Moog synths in what is probably the weakest link in the Death Mask chain.
Lyrics are mostly about violence, self-loathing, and violent self-loathing. Lord Mantis are self-described nihilists, which should give you an indication of what to expect. Surprisingly, track 7 heavily references the crucifixion but avoids the usual declarations about false gods and dead saviors in favor of a martyrdom metaphor. The slow start- funereal drums and all- make track 7 a general oddity, but it is also one of the strongest tracks on the album.
If you’re looking for black-sludge-doom-noise metal that’s very much on the professional end of the garage-studio production spectrum, this might be it. Those seeking dirty, broke, angry Satanists will have to go elsewhere, and may God speed thee on thy quest.
The question of the KFJC acronym continues. As the title may suggest, this release consists of Sabbat’s KFJC live mic from October 10, 2013, remixed by James Plotkin for Nuclear War Now! Productions. This album really displays the nature of the beast that is live recordings, so that most of the tracks sound much less precise than their studio versions and include chatter at the ends and beginnings and, on one occasion, a false start (track 4). Whether this improves or diminishes the material is a matter of personal taste. For those who want their live music spit-shined, tracks 5 and 6 sound a bit cleaner.
Sabbat are a Japanese trio (vocals/bass, guitar, and drums/vocals) and have a somewhat eighties-influenced, thrashy black metal sound. All of the tracks are guitar-heavy, which usually means quick thrash riffs abound. Vocals are alternately yelped, growled, and yelled, and always heavily accented. There is some comparatively clean singing to be found on track 6, but it is brief. Lyrical themes are centered around Satan, death, fire, and witchcraft- a soundtrack for your next Satanic ritual in the heavy metal parking lot. Track 1 is an instrumental, so no Satan buressings to be found there. All tracks are FCC-free.
Sabbat are always good for some earnest, energetic-yet-blackened Satanism, and this release is very exciting for KFJC. Spin it till you draw blood.
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