Seven That Spells – “Death and Resurrection of Krautrock: AUM, The” – [Beta-Lactam Ring Records]

Laethaka   2/7/2012   A Library, CD

Seven That Spells returns with another (slightly less) prurient psych rock album outta Croatia. At the heart of this star system (DRK-AUM ’11) is a blazing solar drum furnace, around which orbit a few guitars that pass through (mostly) regular rhythms, and around which them (the planets) wax and wane various cryptic moons of vocal howl and appeal.

DRK-AUM ’11 is roughly symmetrical. #1 opens with a Satan-Satan-Satan chant and builds into some heavier riffs that flow into a totally mindblowingly excellent #2, then collapse into a dreamy, almost droning #3. This then bounces back into a rhythmic, driven, almost heavy metal #4 that flies off into a very similar (little slower) riff as #1’s before closing with the exact same Satan-Satan-Satan chant for #5. If you loved Men From Dystopia, you’ll love #2. In any case you’ll probably love everything.

Ruins Alone – “Ruins Alone” – [Skin Graft Records]

Laethaka   1/31/2012   12-inch, A Library

Frantic and/or excellent Japanese Zeuhl from the lead guy behind Ruins. Whole album is about 45 min, but maybe more like 2 hours before it was sped up.

GRUBANDGO (#4B) is absolutely fantastic and highly recommended for just about any upbeat set. AHFTSIVESPHA (#9A) is also great and darker if you’re looking for something a little fiercer. Both, like some of the best Magma, take a look at the guttural freedom and unpredictable beauty and exuberant magic of primitivism- telling strange and wild stories around a campfire in a dark but unhostile night.

There’s also some killer tracks with more of a futuristic touch, like GLASCHZENCK, EQUESSPALDHO, and SANCTUARY (#1B, 7A, & 8A). “Futuristic” here denoting babbled vocals and a whole lot of synthesizer blazing. (does that sound ugly? it isn’t!)

Stalaggh – “Nihilistik Terror” – [Autopsy Kitchen Recordings]

Laethaka   1/30/2012   A Library, CD

75 minutes of sound and fury from some mystery Dutch dudes. A “Stalag” was a Nazi prison camp and the -gh stands for global holocaust, so make sure to play this sunny one at 7 AM.

All vocals are unintelligible (supposedly from asylum inmates; I don’t buy it) and the noise never lets up, but there’s a little variety. #1 is slower and lower and has some pretty fun static bursts to clean your earwax. #2 is mostly screaming and distortion. #3 has moans and staggering impacts that might remind you of the worst night drunk you can unfortunately remember.

But this album is pain without suffering. The noise is harsh but almost gets predictable (#1 practically orbits between screams and buzzes), and the holocaust imagery is so abstract and distant that it’s hard to get pissed off by.

don’t worry about the track lengths — start/stop anywhere

Welcome to The Golden State [coll] – [Cowabunga Records]

Laethaka   1/16/2012   7-inch, A Library

11 track hardcore punk compilation from 2008 Illinois two-man label. You know what to expect… most songs < 1:00 and all the ones you want to play are completely FCCilthy. Just like a shark attack. Gaps between songs are a bit too long to air more than one.

Big variety in recording styles could let this squeeze into any sort of gap you need filled at 4 AM. 1A, 5A, 1B, 5B, 6B are blazing rushes. 2A, 3B, 4B are melodic but distorted. 3A, 4A, 2B are (comparatively) long and structured and super good.


Vanhelgd – “Church of Death” – [Nuclear War Now! Product]

Laethaka   1/9/2012   12-inch, A Library

Somewhere there is a dimension and universe where I am drunk at home and hosing down zombies with a flamethrower and listening to this album over and over and over and over.

I submit that the core fusion-reactor-type power of Swedish Melodic Death Metal (TM) is its ability to take awful horrible painful sensibilities and stare them down and transfigure them into a purpose. At worst, you end up with lyrically feckless mush about marshes and candles and the moon on her snow white skin. At best, you get this odious, elegant, brooding, undying album as a throwback to Stockholm’s not too distant glory days. If you’re looking for a purpose in darkness, the thing to do is build a church to it!!(?)


Four Burials [coll] – [Flenser]

Laethaka   1/3/2012   A Library, CD

Four long, melancholic tracks from an international lineup of doom and despair.

#1 is fuzzy and growling; you’re being thrown in a mass grave by exhausted soldiers on a torn battleground.

#2 is mostly drums and clean guitar; you have an orthodox and heartfelt funeral attended by friends and family.

#3 is calm and very long; you’ve died affluent but alone and are being put to rest at a service attended by noone.

#4 is haunting and sad; you died as a child from a painful disease- your life had no positive aspects and noone learned anything from it, but there’s a deep relief in the release.

Black Cobra – “Invernal” – [Southern Lord Recordings]

Laethaka   1/3/2012   A Library, CD

Eight tracks of fast, melodic, loud metal from LA. Very similar to High On Fire. Recorded in eight days and supposedly themed around a post-apocalyptic Antarctica, but vocals take a back seat. Dark enough for metal sets and coherent enough for anything. Little variation between tracks– each one kicks ass!!

#3 is slightly slower

#4-6 are the best

Botanist – “I: The Suicide Tree / II: a Rose From The Dead” – [Tumult]

Laethaka   12/12/2011   A Library, CD

Ever wonder what black metal would sound like if the guitars were replaced by a hammered dulcimer and some piano? One-man, SF-based Botanist is here with a double-CD answer, and I’m gonna to listen to it until I can photosynthesize.

40 songs about plants. The lyrics are fun (insects trapped and sliding into the blissful oblivion of pitcher plant goo), but the instrumentation is bad (nonstop pounding) and the songs almost all sound the same. Yet that sound is unbelievably crisp and efficient– it’s a real treat after so many black metal bands that howl around with spikes coming out of their eyeballs. Botanist will beat you up with his bare hands/meristems.

Panopticon – “Social Disservices” – [Flenser]

Laethaka   12/7/2011   A Library, CD

A “Panopticon” is an old design for a building that’s pretty much one big one-way mirror, so I guess it fits to make a four part concept album about an asylum. Social Disservices bounces around the last 15 years of metal between purposeful Gojira, hypnotic Darkthrone, and hypercognizant Edge of Sanity, but the two Austin Lunns (not related) of Panopticon are careful to string everything together. There’s half a dozen moods and metal styles here, and they all flow into a perfectly listenable album.

Track 1 starts with 1 min and #2 has 2 min of kids laughing/crying, but both then kick fast into a couple different strains of black metal. Track 3 has a long break between pseudo-symphonic metal and a great burst of pure melodic stuff that I have to swear sounds straight out of 1997 Stockholm (both ALunns are USA, now Kentucky). Track 4 is a blend of tracks 1-3 and partly reverses the album’s earlier momentum towards purity for almost 20 minutes…

but which brings me to why I can’t let this album into my pissy little heart. In over 45 minutes of recombinant metal, Social Disservices offers nothing new. The concept behind the album itself remains vague- tracks 3 & 4, named for inmates, are way lighter than 1 & 2, named for staff, suggesting that some master/slave inverted freedom is going on here- but then why the album’s title and cover art?? Maybe it’s an American thing, needing to have our take on some styles that have been largely dominated by our frosty northern kith, but the sheer variety of this album seems to cut off any real attempt at expression. Track 4 ends with a couple minutes of crickets, and I chose to interpret that in the meanest way I could.

Liver Cancer – “Horrible Moment” – [Love Earth Music]

Laethaka   12/5/2011   A Library, CD

Relive your most painful and humiliating memories with this kickass harsh noise release from the wastes of suburban Sacramento. Horrible Moment is ~45 minutes of distilled anguish, but that doesn’t mean it’s dense- #6 and 10 are masterful mindfucks that bring a nice variety of sounds into play. Screamed/distorted male vocals get incorporated into #3, 4, 8, and 13, while #5 and 9 are dominated by them (couple discernible “FUCK”s). #7 is a 9+ min monster that blasts you up into the ionosphere, lets you chill in the void for a while, then calls you down in a flaming, dwindling wreck. #11 is a moaned/yelled ode to being a shitty waste of life. #1 is a quiet, wailed intro. #2 is a quick treat for noise purists. #12 is what happens when you try to tell a story with a noise track, and it could either describe or induce a coronary depending on your age group/family history/mindset/medication. Close listening of #7 gave me the jitters and made me huddle up with Zola Jesus for an hour.

If you’ve kept away from harsh noise, seriously try taking this baby down a dark alley off your memory lane, and see if you get a tingle or two.


Bolt Thrower – “Realm of Chaos” – [Earache]

Laethaka   12/2/2011   12-inch, A Library

FOR THE EMPEROR!! Bolt Thrower storms and conquers across the galaxy in this, their second album, with all tracks themed on the dystopian and now classic Warhammer 40k scifi universe. 40k has since been toned down for kids, but back in 1989 it was raw, bloody, and radically grim (38,000 years in the future, humanity regresses into a theofascist galactic nightmare).

This album perfectly captures that fleeting moment in scifi history where the flame of hope guttered and disgruntled men/boys around the world could play Inquisitor-Commissar, execute the heretics, nuke a billion innocent people, and save the galaxy from demons of pleasure and ambition.

Songs are relentlessly heavy and dedicated to being angry without any specific reason. Intro and Outro are ambient, skip ’em. World Eater is probably Bolt Thrower’s best ever. Check out the liner booklet for a whole lot of classic 40k art. Overall this album might be mediocre without context, but what metalhead can dislike an entire album dedicated to-


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